All Weather News

Hanging onto Summer Warmth But Cold Air Building For Later in the Week

Second Driest September On Record. With a meager .30″ of rain (more than a trace fell on only 3 days this month) September 2012 was the second driest ever recorded, second only to 1882. Source: Twin Cities NWS.

30 Day Rainfall. The contrast couldn’t be any more stark, a few tenths of an inch of rain for most of Minnesota, as much as 12-15″ for central and southern Illinois (most of that from the sloppy remains of “Isaac”). Map courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center and the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Drought – And Peak Color From Space. NASA’s high-resolution MODIS satellite image from Saturday shows tinges of orange and red from low orbit. From 200 miles up you can see how dry much of Minnesota is right now.


Insert Gasp Here. But Not Buying It (Yet). In the spirit of full disclosure, warts and all, here is the 120 hour GFS accumulated snowfall product, which prints out a cool foot of snow for the Gunflint Trail and the BWCA, a plowable snow for Duluth and Hibbing Thursday. I’m putting more stock and faith into the ECMWF (European) solution, which hints at some slushy snow for northern Minnesota Thursday, but not nearly this much. To some degree I’m covering my meteorological-butt, but I suspect the odds of this happening are less than 1 in 4.

Looks Like October. The GFS 500 mb (18,000 foot) forecast valid next Sunday at 1 pm shows a cold, deep trough of low pressure centered over Hudson Bay, reinforcing “spokes” of energy rotating around this cold whirlpool of Canadian air. By next Sunday temperatures aloft may be marginally cold enough for a few wet flakes to reach the ground up north. Map above courtesy of Larry Cosgrove’s WeatherAmerica Newsletter.

Rainfall Necessary To End The Drought. Based on NOAA’s Palmer Index, the values above are the rainfall amounts necessary to end the drought. Those amounts range from 5-6″ in the Twin Cities metro to 8-11″ over southern counties, to as much as 11-13″ over the Red River Valley. A couple of storms won’t do the trick – it may take many months to dig ourselves out of this dry, dusty hole. Map: NOAA, USDA and Ham Weather.

Good News For Dock Companies. Good grief – look at the collection of extendable docks on White Bear Lake. Details: “White Bear Lake is plummeting to a record low water level due to the current drought and large amount of groundwater pumping. Docks along the shoreline need to be constantly extended.” (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE).

Groundwater Blamed In White Bear Lake Drop. The Freshwater Society has a comprehensive article focused on some of the possible triggers of water loss in White Bear Lake; here’s an excerpt: “The research, funded by the USGS, the state and a number of local governmental units, reinforced some old theories and produced some new evidence about the causes of the lake’s decline. The findings so far:

  • White Bear drains a very small watershed and has always had big decreases in area and volume during extended dry periods when rainfall and melting snow do not keep up with evaporation.
  • Chemical testing of water from wells around the lakes confirms that lake water is flowing out the bottom of the lake into groundwater aquifers that feed those wells.
  • Pumping from high-capacity wells in suburban communities that mostly draw their water from those aquifers more than doubled over the last 30 years.

Statistical modeling suggests that the increased pumping is the biggest cause, by far, of the lake’s decline, according to Perry Jones, the USGS hydrologist who led the research. Other modeling predicts the lake will drop further if there is no significant and sustained increase in precipitation.”

“…In total over 35 percent of Minnesota’s landscape was designated to be in severe or extreme drought, the largest fraction of the state since the fall of 2006. The only Minnesota county not designated to be drier than normal is Cook in the far northeast.” – from Dr. Mark Seeley’s WeatherTalk blog; details and links below.

One Of The Driest Septembers On Record. Actually, it’s the second driest September in modern-day records dating back to 1891, the driest since 1882 for MSP. Here’s an excerpt of this week’s WeatherTalk blog post from Dr. Mark Seeley: “…The real story for September was the dryness due to absence of rainfall. Many observers reported measurable rainfall amounts on only 2-3 days, resulting in one of the driest Septembers in history on a statewide basis. The driest September was 1952 when the statewide average rainfall was just 0.57 inches. This year’s statewide value will be close to that one. Many observers clearly reported their driest September in history, including Windom (0.30″), Moorhead (0.19″), Willmar (0.14″), Collegeville (0.08″), and Morris (0.03″). For Morris and Collegeville it was one of their driest months in history as well.….As of the end of September the U.S. Drought Monitor placed all or parts of 45 Minnesota counties in severe to extreme drought, most notably in southwestern, south-central and northwestern Minnesota.

Photo credit above: “White Bear Lake is plummeting to a record low water level due to the current drought and large amount of groundwater pumping. Some lakeshore property owners have had to constantly expand their docks to reach water’s edge.” (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE).

Record Dry September For Western Washington State. Dry weather is expanding west; here’s an update from the Seattle office of the NWS via Facebook: “Dry weather is expected to continue into October with no significant precipitation through the next 10 days. Following a mostly dry August western Washington had another very dry month. Many locations received little to no rainfall and a few locations recorded their driest September on record.”

All or Nothing. NOAA HPC’s 5-Day rainfall outlook (QPF) is predicting significant 1-3″ rains from The Mid South into south Florida by Saturday; no rain expected from the Southern Plains to the West Coast.

Expanding Drought – Exhibit A. There was a lake here the last time I checked. This photo sums up the problem, which has reached alarming levels at White Bear Lake: “White Bear Lake is plummeting to a record low water level due to the current drought and large amount of groundwater pumping. Stairways that formerly led to water’s edge now end at a grassy beach.” (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE).

A Canadian Shove. The slow-moving storm responsible for flooding rains from Texas into the Mid South will weaken as it pushes northeast, spreading showers into the Ohio River Valley and portions of the east. The big story will be a vigorous cold front pushing south out of Canada into the Northern Rockies and Northern Plains. By Friday there will be no question that autumn has arrived from Pierre to Minneapolis/St. Paul to Madison and Chicago. NAM model data above courtesy of NOAA.


Possible Tornado. Here’s an image of a possible tornado “definite rotation with warned cell”. Thanks to Derek Ladner via @vince_webb for passing this along from Saucier, Mississippi Sunday.

USA Could See Record Quiet Year For Tornadoes. One silver lining to record heat and drought? No clouds, no wind shear, no boundaries to spin up tornadic “supercells”. Here’s a clip from a story at USA Today and “Following on the heels of a deadly 2011, when almost 1,700 tornadoes killed 553 Americans, 2012 has been a remarkably quiet year for tornadoes across the USA. “We may set an all-time record low for the year,” says meteorologist Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. So far this year, about 750 tornadoes have been reported in the USA. At this time last year, about 1,500 had formed. An average year, to date, has about 1,200 tornadoes, says Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman.” Graphic: Greg Carbin, NOAA Storm Prediction Center.
Hurricane Isaac Damaged 59,000 Homes In Louisiana, Officials Estimate. Keep in mind Isaac was a Category 1 storm, but it stalled, prolonging storm surge waves and torrential rains. Here’s an excerpt from The Times-Picayne at “Hurricane Isaac damaged nearly 59,000 homes as the slow-moving storm crawled across southeast Louisiana, according to the latest damage estimates released Friday. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said the most severe damage hit houses and rental units in St. John the Baptist and Plaquemines parishes, where flooding swamped some homes with several feet of water. The latest estimates — 46,663 owner-occupied houses and 12,289 rental units damaged by the storm — were more than four times the preliminary figures released a week after Isaac made landfall Aug. 28.”

Car-Flipping Winds From Typhoon Jelawat. Here’s a snippet of incredible YouTube footage, courtesy of AP, as Typhoon Jelawat swept across Okinawa: “A powerful typhoon headed to Tokyo on Sunday after injuring dozens of people, causing blackouts and paralyzing traffic in southern and western Japan. Amateur video posted online on Saturday showed the winds picking up a vehicle.” (Sept. 30)
Two Earthquakes Confirmed In D/FW. Texas Storm Chasers has more details on a rare Dallas tremor Sunday: “Two earthquakes, a M3.4 and a M3.1, were confirmed to have occured between 11:05 PM CDT and 11:10 PM CDT last night in western Dallas County. The first earthquake occured in Irving off Highway 183 and the second earthquake occured very close to Loop 12/Interstate 30. Very minor damage has been reported with reports of small cracks in walls and a few small items falling down. We do NOT specalize in earthquakes so we cannot tell you if it occured due to fracking. We’ll leave that debate up to the experts.”

Ring Around The Doppler. What could produce such an artifact? If you guessed “melting snow” you would be correct. You win nothing, except the satisfaction of realizing that you’re an above-average weather geek (um…enthusiast). Details from the Lubbock, Texas National Weather Service: “A curious RADAR display this morning – perhaps you can guess what caused it. We call it a “bright band” and it typically shows up during cool season stratiform rain. A hint: the altitude of the band varies depending on how warm or cool the airmass is that the rain falls through. This mornings bright band is around 8500 to 9000 feet above the ground over the Texas South Plains – typical of an early fall tropical airmass. We are looking at an approximate 9.9 degree elevation cut, as opposed to the familiar 0.5 degree slice we normally look at. Could it be either birds/insects flying off? How about an earthquake? Well, if you guessed instead melting snow – then you are correct. As snowflakes melt they add a layer of water onto the snow flakes and become highly reflective within the melting layer (also very close to the freezing level), thus causing a concentric ring around the RADAR dome location.”


Autumnal Sunset. Thanks to Matt Crilley, who snapped this photo of the setting sun illuminating a mid-level altocumulus cloud deck over Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of WeatherNation TV.


Harvest Moon. Brent Elkins snapped this photo of a Harvest Moon hovering above Paducah, Kentucky. Image courtesy of WeatherNation TV.


Boston Blues. WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick snapped this photo in a cool, rainy Boston, where there is little doubt that autumn has arrived.

Football Weather. I was in Annapolis Saturday for a Navy football game, a perfect sky filled with fair weather cumulus overhead. The Navy Midshipmen lined up on the field before kick-off in their white dress uniforms.


One Big Step For Tesla, One Giant Leap For E.V.’s. I’m a car nut, and I have to admit that I love this car. It’s the Tesla Model S, made in America, all electric, all the time. Will electric-powered vehicles catch on over time? Here’s an excerpt of a fairly glowing review from The New York Times: “AUTOMAKERS have a favored buzzword for promoting important new models: game-changer. Excuse me, but the game is not so easily changed. Put simply, the automobile has not undergone a fundamental change in design or use since Henry Ford rolled out the Model T more than a century ago. At least that’s what I thought until I spent a week with the Tesla Model S. The 2012 Model S, a versatile sedan that succeeds the company’s two-seat Roadster, is simultaneously stylish, efficient, roomy, crazy fast, high-tech and all electric. It defies the notion that electric cars are range-limited conveyances.” Photo credit: Wikipedia (which has more details on this EV).

Twitter is ‘gonna be HUGE!

Words of Wisdom. Thanks to and my sister, Joan, who is German, so she can almost get away with sharing this. “Ich liebe dich!” How romantic.


Our SUPER-SIZED Minnesota Summer

Definition of an optimist: Minnesotan with a swimming pool. Or a convertible. “Summers in Minnesota are lovely. I just wish they lasted more than a week or two” my Pennsylvania father jokes. Think again. There were boats on the lake in late March – there will be boating in October. If this autumn is similar to the last 10 it’ll be warm enough for golf into early November.

We’re losing our Cold Weather Mojo. Longer growing season – check. Fewer subzero blasts – check. Nights trending warmer – check. This slow-motion warming trend has some unpleasant side effects, but Minnesota will benefit overall. That’s my extended outlook.

Assuming we can keep water in our lakes, of course. It was the driest September since 1882, and I still don’t see a buckling of jet stream winds that would spray a firehose of Gulf moisture northward.

A fizzling clipper sparks a stray shower today. Highs top 70 into Wednesday; a stronger surge of chilly air triggers showery rains on Thursday. If skies clear the metro may see a frost early Saturday, with a few flurries up north.

Yes, that may be it for 80s this year, but expect more 60s by mid-October.

Wait, if this keeps up my dad may move out here.

Uh oh.


Climate Stories…

High Arctic Warming Exceeds Viking Era. The story from The Current; here’s a snippet: “Temperatures high in the Norwegian Arctic are above those in a natural warm period in Viking times, underscoring a thaw opening the region to everything from oil exploration to shipping, scientists said on Thursday. Last week, sea ice on the Arctic Ocean set a record low since satellite observations began in the 1970s. In recent years, mussels have been found off the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard for the first time since the Viking era 1,000 years ago. The study showed that summertime temperatures on Svalbard were higher now than at any time in the past 1,800 years, including in the Medieval Warm Period from 950 to 1200, scientists wrote in the journal Geology.”

Fish To Shrink By Up To A Quarter Due To Climate Change, Study Reveals. Here’s the introduction to a story at The Guardian. Smaller fish in a warming world? “Global warming is likely to shrink the size of fish by as much as a quarter in coming decades, according to a groundbreaking new study of the world’s oceans. The reduction in individual fish size will be matched by a dwindling of overall fish stocks, warned scientists, at a time when the world’s growing human population is putting ever greater pressure on fisheries.”

Climate Change Is Already Damaging World’s Economy. The story from The Guardian and Climate Central; here’s an excerpt: “Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6 percent annually from global GDP, according to a new study. The impacts are being felt most keenly in developing countries, according to the research, where damage to agricultural production from extreme weather linked to climate change is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty, and their associated diseases. Air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels is also separately contributing to the deaths of at least 4.5 million people a year, the report found.”

Photo credit above: “Impacts of climate change are mostly keenly felt in developing countries where damage to agricultural production from extreme weather is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases.” Credit: NEWSCOM.

When Will Candidates Address Climate Change? Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at “…A study published last year by scientists at Stanford and MIT reported that chemically removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would cost about $1,000 a ton. That means it would cost $600 trillion to remove 600 billion tons, and we’re increasing our “environmental debt” by more than $30 trillion a year! Those numbers can be compared to the 2011 world GDP of about $70 trillion.As Hansen said: “The era of doubts, delays and denial, of ineffectual half-measures, must end.…” Photo credit above:

Species Loss Creates More Climate Change Sensitivity. Here’s the intro to an interesting story at Sci-Tech Today: “Climate change can exacerbate the negative effects of losing sensitive species, researchers say. Biodiversity acts as an insurance policy as it increases the likelihood at least some species will be sufficiently resilient to sustain important functions such as water purification and crop pollination in a changing environment. Species loss and reduced biodiversity make nature more sensitive to climate change, Swedish researchers say. This is especially true for species that sustain important functions such as water purification and crop pollination in a changing environment, they said.


“We Don’t Know Enough About Climate Change Yet.” I agree with some of what this Forbes Op-Ed author has to say – he’s right: we don’t know what all the various feedbacks will be; they may be better (or worse) than predicted. He’s advocating a carbon tax, but he also talks about environmental activists wanting to “dismantle capitalism”. Not sure where that meme comes from, but I hear it a lot. “This climate change baloney is just a clever way to redistribute wealth and turn the USA into something (with socialistic leanings) that resembles Spain or Greece.” Really? The innovation required to mitigate climate change will propel the USA into a new technological orbit, one that will insure our success and competitive domination for most of the 21st century. This is what (most) politicians and policy wonks fail to realize. This is another Moon Shot for the USA. One that calls for innovation and new technological solutions that will generate millions of new (American) jobs and give us a sustainable competitive edge. If we can get past denial and get to solutions. The remains to be seen. Here’s an excerpt of the Forbest Op-Ed that caught my eye: “...We don’t, as yet, know what the interaction of all of the feedbacks from climate change will be. We know that some such feedbacks will be positive, we know that others will be negative. We’re not wholly and entirely sure whether the total effect of them all will be positive and negative: although we’re pretty sure that the total will be positive. We are most certainly not sure that the effects of climate change will be bad enough that we should dismantle industrial capitalism to avoid it: whatever certain activists might tell you about it all.…”


Are We Wrong About Climate Change? Here’s an excerpt from a Doug Craig Climate of Change post at “…So if the science is settled, why do so many have trouble believing this? As Oreskes explains, “The mass media have paid a great deal of attention to a handful of dissenters in a manner that is greatly disproportionate with their representation in the scientific community. The number of climate scientists who actively do research in the field but disagree with the consensus position is evidently very small.”

“This is not to say that there are not a significant number of contrarians but to point out that most of them are not climate scientists and therefore have little (or no) basis to claim to be experts on the subjects on which they boldly pronounce.”

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