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Karen Fizzles Near Gulf Coast (43″ snows South Dakota, Iowa tornadoes, Minnesota mudslides)

Silver Buckshot

What I can’t yet wrap my tired brain around is this: why should conservatism apply to everything BUT the environment, the very thing that sustains us?

How do we keep the lights on and the economy humming along, using market forces to make greener, cleaner options more viable? When people realize they can save green by going green.
Get an energy audit on your home. Buy carbon offsets when you fly. Consider a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

I just traded 2 gas-powered cars on a Tesla Model S. It’s a techno-geek’s 4-wheel fantasy – gliding past the local BP gas station with a grin on my face; charging it in my garage at night, using cheaper, off-peak electricity.

There’s no silver bullet, but there is silver buckshot that can make a difference long-term.
Lead, South Dakota is digging out from 43 inches of snow (not bad for the first week of October), while Sioux City cleans up from a rare swarm of October tornadoes. “Karen” is fizzling in the Gulf, more of a sloppy inconvenience than a huge threat.

Another Big Storm Next Weekend – Coastal Storm For Eastern USA? Here is GFS guidance going out 192 hours into next weekend, showing yet another major storm tracking across the Plains, while an Atlantic storm retrogrades westward toward the East Coast. Karen quickly fizzles to tropical depression status. Loop: NOAA and Ham Weather.

Hurricane Hunters Flying The Storm And Moving Their Planes. has an interesting story – here’s an excerpt: “Biloxi’s Hurricane Hunters are busy flying the storm and moving their planes out of harm’s way. Beginning Friday, they’ll be stationed at Ellington Field near Houston, Texas, and flying the storm from there. The commander of the 403rd Air Wing at Keesler spoke to WLOX News about the challenges of watching the weather, relocating those planes and dealing with government furloughs. “We’re moving airplanes and we’re flying the storm. And that’s the challenge that we face right now,” said Col. Frank Amodeo…”

Shutdown Stopping Flow Of Information As Dangerous Storms Threaten Nation. Here’s an excerpt of a Jason Samenow article at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang: “…In addition to the social media stoppages, several Federal websites that historically have provided information and updates about hazardous weather are also down or not being updated:

* The portal, which often serves as a hub for life-threatening storm information and resources; it is redirecting to, which is fully functional
* NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory, which provides storm imagery on a daily basis
* NASA’s Hurricane Web site, which provides news and visuals about tropical weather systems
* NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s weather imagery.

Subtle Yet Blunt. Here’s a technical explanation of weather in Anchorage, but look carefully and you can see it: a cry for help. PLEASE PAY US. I don’t blame them for being upset.

Major Storms Are Forming, And America’s Meteorologists Are Stuck At Home. Well, some of them. Here’s a clip from a story at Quartz: “…As potential natural disasters loom, the American government is shut down because of a budget dispute. As part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mission to “protect life and property,” critical civil servants such as weather forecasters must remain at work—without pay —while support staff and other “non-essential” personnel are being sent home. Although essential personnel are still on the job (and others have been recalled in face of the impending weather disruptions), it’s impossible to think that the fragmentation of bureaucracy won’t have an impact in the context of a rapidly changing natural disaster...” (Map above: Ham Weather).

Predicted Rainfall. Latest ECMWF guidance shows some 3-4″ amounts over far southeastern Louisiana from what is left of Karen, but the heaviest rains will remain out over the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, pushing ashore by midday and afternoon Sunday with some 1-2″ amounts from near Mobile to Pensacola. Summer T-storms often produce more rain than that.

Water Official: Drought Is Worst Central Texas Has Experienced. has the article – here’s the introduction: “Austin water officials said this afternoon that the drought is the worst Central Texas has experienced — worse already than the epic drought of the 1950s — and that as early as next spring the city may need to pursue options such as banning all but hand-held outdoor watering, higher drought rates and even curtailing the use of indoor water. “This is not your father’s drought, this is not even your grandfather’s drought,” Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros told the City Council. “This is, in my opinion, the worst drought we’ve faced in Central Texas, ever…”

The Most Detailed Visuals Of Hurricane Sandy, Revealed. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman at Climate Central has a great article about new visualization tools being used to shed more light on Superstorm Sandy; here’s a clip: “Scientists have recently developed awe-inspiring visualizations of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states a year ago. The visualizations, created using state-of-the-art computer models, provide some of most detailed looks at any hurricane to date. Scientists based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., used an advanced hurricane computer model to create mesmerizing images and animations that almost succeed in making the destructive and deadly storm appear to be a beautiful work of art…”

Graphic credit above: “In this 3-D map of potential temperature, relatively cool air wraps around Sandy’s core near the surface (purple and blue colors), while air parcels gain heat from moisture condensing into clouds and precipitation as they ascend through the storm’s core.” Credit: UCAR.

How The Broken Media Helped Break The Government. What flavor news would you like today? No need to think objectively – we’ll tell you what you want to hear. The Atlantic has an intriguing take on one (of many) reasons why Washington D.C. is failing us – here’s a clip: “…The triumph of opinion-driven cable TV and the collapse of newspapers has created an American news media that does an increasingly poor job of informing the public. And an excellent job of dividing it. The media, of course, is not solely to blame for America’s political polarization. Complex dynamics — including a weak economy, gerrymandering and rapidly-shifting demographics — are fueling growing partisanship. But an economically battered news industry in desperate need of a new business model is a core part of the problem. Creating cable television and social media bubbles where one’s political views are affirmed has proven popular and profitable…”

Photo credit above: “Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.” (Reuters).

65 Amazing Facts That Will Blow Your Mind. Mental Floss has an intriguing collection of nuggets, including this one: “Reed Hastings was inspired to start Netflix after racking up a $40 late fee on a VHS copy of Apollo 13.”

Climate Stories…

Why I’m Never Flying Again. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus got a lot of (crap) when he went public with an admission that the latest IPCC report triggered tears as he was boarding a flight – aviation being a big source of greenhouse gas emissions. It went viral, followed by snarky tweets and questioning his motives. Here’s an excerpt of his story, excerpted at Quartz: “…The average American household, as you can see in the chart above, flies much less than I do, and should probably focus more effort on reducing emissions from car travel (or other things) rather than planes. But for a lot of us frequent fliers, the environmental harm is dramatic and adds up fast. A one-way flight from New York to San Francisco (2.23 tons of CO2) has nearly the same impact as driving a Hummer the same distance (2.81 tons).  By vowing not to fly, I went from having more than double the carbon footprint as the average American to about 30% less than average.…”

Our Response To Climate Change Will Seal The Future. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Salt Lake Tribune: “…The key to making this connection was the vertical structure of the atmosphere. If warming is caused by the sun, you would expect the whole atmosphere to warm up. If climate change is caused by volcanic activity, you would expect dust from these eruptions to absorb sunlight and cause cooling in the lower atmosphere. But greenhouse gases are trapped in the lower atmosphere. If they are the culprit, the lower half of the atmosphere will warm up and the upper half will cool down. Santer’s research, replicated by many others, documents a telltale warming of the lower atmosphere and cooling of the upper atmosphere. End of story. That’s the balloons and thermometers part. Here’s the effect. Nearly all glaciers in the world are receding, and the summer Arctic polar ice cap is almost gone. The Northwest Passage over North America and the Northeast Passage over Asia are now realities. That’s not subtle…”

Climate Change: Skeptics, Deniers And Believers. Are we using the wrong language to communicate the threat? Piling on more facts and evidence doesn’t always help. Here’s an interesting read at Financial Times.

Climate Change Is Real, NREL Director Tells Cleveland Sustainability Summit. Here are some of the statistics that caught my eye in a story at “…In his presentation, Kutscher said that nationally wind power has already become a major force – reaching a capacity of 60,000 megawatts (600 million watts) by the end of 2012. Solar power capacity had reached about 3,400 megawatts (34 milion watts) by the end of last year. That’s enough wind power to supply 14 million average U.S. homes and enough solar power to supply about half a million U.S. homes, each over a year on average. In the long run, solar could catch up and even outstrip wind capacity, Kutscher said in the interview. “It will happen, but not tomorrow,” he said. “It could take a decade, or two, or three…”

Five Things You Must Know About The IPCC Report (Op-Ed). Here’s an excerpt from an Op-Ed at Live Science: “…First, the scientific work reported by the IPCC in the AR5 is the gold standard for getting a big-picture understanding of what’s happening to the climate. The report itself has 259 authors from 36 countries. They are scrupulous about quantifying the certainty of both findings and projections. This report is the best tool society has for making informed, rational decisions on how to deal with climate disruption. Second, there is a lot of bad news: Several effects of climate disruption have accelerated during the past decade, such as the loss of Arctic sea ice, the melting of big glaciers and the rise of sea levels...”

Photo credit above: “An ephemeral lake in California’s Yosemite National Park where Pacific tree frogs breed.” Credit: USGS.

Let It Burn. Changing Firefighting Techniques For A Warming World. Time Magazine takes a look at how going from defense to offense (in reducing ongoing fire risk) brings a whole new set of issues and challenges; here’s a clip: “…Wildfires have always been a natural part of forest ecology, especially in the dry American West. The occasional small fire prevents forests from becoming overgrown, clearing old vegetation out for new growth. But if you try to smother every wildfire that breaks out—which is what the U.S. Forest Service does now—that vegetation keeps growing and growing, adding more potential fuel to the next fire. And that raises the chances of a megafire, one of the devouring infernos—like the wildfire that threatened Yosemite National Park in California earlier this summer—that truly can kill…” (Image: U.S. Forest Service).

Earth, 2100 AD. Four Futures Of Environment And Society. How quickly will we wean ourselves off fossil fuels will determine the Extended Outlook – for the planet. Here’s an excerpt from New Scientist: “…Here, New Scientist explores four hypothetical futures for human society in 2100, using criteria set out by climate modellers – though we cannot reproduce the huge amount of data in their scenarios (see graph). We have selected some key points and sketched out an image of society in each scenario. To do this, we drew on descriptions published by the IPCC in 2000 and, in consultation with climate modellers, chose the ones that correspond to the concentrations of greenhouse gases published in last week’s IPCC report (see “Climate report: Lull in warming doesn’t mean we’re safe“)… (Image: NASA).

Let’s Be Honest. The Global Warming Debate Isn’t About Science. Here’s a clip from a story at The Guardian: “…The IPCC warns that if we want to avoid very dangerous climate change, we’re on track to blow through our allowed carbon budget in as little as two to three decades if we continue on our current path of relying on fossil fuels. If we’re lucky and the low sensitivity scenario is accurate, perhaps we’ll have an extra decade or two, but even in this best case scenario, we’re on an unsustainable climate path.

Politically biased media climate coverage is not a coincidence

The scientific evidence is what it is, and it has no political bias. The same is not true of the media outlets that cover the topic. It’s not a coincidence that politically conservative tabloids and newspapers like the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Australian, and Wall Street Journal spend a disproportionate amount of time amplifying the voices of the less than 3 percent of climate contrarian scientists, as well as many non-scientist contrarians…”

Image above: Clean Technica. ________________________________________________________________


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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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