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Family of Alberta Clippers & Results of St. Paul Climate Seminar



Mitigating climate change will require a level of sustained innovation and American reinvention that will propel the USA into a new competitive paradigm.

Climate Change Seminar this past weekend at the St. Paul Science Museum. An overview of what I learned below.


4 pm Today. The WRF model shows rain showers popping up over central and northern Minnesota later today, a couple of showers may brush the Twin Cities metro by late afternoon. Showers and T-showers push across Florida, otherwise most of the USA will experience a dry October 8.

2012: 29th Wettest Year on Record for Minnesota. This is preliminary data, January thru August. Although the 29th wettest such period in modern-day records for Minnesota, the same period was the 11th driest for Iowa, second driest for Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado, 4th driest for the state of Illinois. Map: NOAA NCDC.

Total Rainfall By Monday. The GFS outlook thru October 15 is showing some 1″ rainfall amounts over far southern Minnesota, the best chance coming Saturday, especially south of the Twin Cities. Heavy rain is likely for the Seattle area; otherwise dry weather prevails from the Rockies to the west coast.

Climate Science Seminar. St. Paul’s Science Museum hosted a Climate Science Seminar Friday evening and Saturday, hosting local TV and radio meteorologists from around the Upper Midwest. It’s impossible for me to adequately summarize everything I heard and learned, but here are a few highlights, based on the notes I took at the event. I don’t purport to be recapping the seminar, word for word (I’m too easily distracted), but here is what I remember and put to paper:

Dr. Ben Santer (Lawrence Livermore Laboratory)

Most of the observed warming during the latter half of the 20th century is very likely (greater than 90% probability) to be attributed to human activities. – 2007 IPCC conclusion

Natural causes alone cannot explain the observed changes.

The science is real – we can’t embrace ignorance.”

Many Americans are rightfully concerned about the fiscal debt we’re handing down to tour kids, which proves we can still focus on future problems and issues. Buut when it comes to environmental debt, triggered by a steady build-up of greenhouse gases, many of these same people are silent. There is a serious disconnect.”

What do people want to be remembered for? The money they accumulated during their careers? How much stuff they have? Or the world they left behind?

* no such thing as “settled science” or “perfect science”. The science is continually evolving as new data comes in and new hypotheses are formed, tested, validated or discarded.

* based on the evidence at hand scientists try to reach consensus.

” media “balance” on climate policy is appropriate – but on climate science?

Anthony Brocoli, Rutgers University

How do we know that greenhouse gases trigger warming?

* Basic physics.

* Observations

* Modeling

According to NCDC: 2012 is the warmest year since 1895 for most states from the Upper Midwest to the east coast.

* map above courtesy of NOAA NCDC (118 means hottest on record).

Human-caused warming (AGW) will increase the probability of warmer weather, but internal variability will always be a powerful factor from year to year.”

97% Why do (only) 97% of published, climate scientists agree that humans are largely responsible for most of the warming since the latter half of the 20th century? “Scientists do not all have identical thresholds for accepting hypotheses.”

Climate Policy: “Your opinion counts just as much as mine.”

Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota

Important Drivers With Climate Change:

1). Natural variability.

2). Land use/landscape changes.

3). AGW (human-caused warming linked to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation)

“The persistence and amplitude of the warming signal during winter is stronger in Minnesota.”

Brainerd: new 30-year rolling weather averages show a 3.8 F. warming for January low temperatures.

Implications for Minnesota:

* increased freeze/thaw cycle (more damaged roads)

* longer growing and construction season.

* changes in animal migration, hibernation and foraging.

* longer exposure times to mold and allergens

* later nitrogen applications (soil temperatures too high)

* more rapid breakdown of crop residues.

* change in the depth/duration of soil and lake freezing.

* fewer adverse-weather days.

Temperature signal during the summer is modest in Minnesota.

Based on cooling degree days: 2012 is the 3rd warmest on record.

Slight increase in 70-degree dew point days.

* first 80-degree dew point reported at Voyageur’s State Park. Historically this is unprecedented.

Most of our heat waves since the 1980s have been driven not by air temperature, but by excessive dew points.”

Minnesota Impacts & Vulnerabilities:

* new insects/pathogens.

* efficacy of herbicides.

* warm water issues (algae blooms).

* heat-related health care implications (MS, COPD, obesity.

* increased livestock stress.

* shorline management.

* storm sewer runoff.

* influence on fisheries.

There are 1,500 volunteer weather observers in the state of Minnesota (I did not know that).

Trends: springs and falls are trending wetter. Eastern Minnesota is trending wetter with time.

10-30% increase in “normal precipitation”.

Bipolar Weather Regime:

Severe drought has been reported somewhere in Minnesota every summer since 2005.

Greg Zandlo report: three separate 1-in-1,000 year flood events in southern Minnesota since September, 2004.

I’ll accept the notion of climate change when pigs and rabbits fly…”

Cloud credits: “pig”, courtesy of Cloud Appreciation Society, “rabbit” photo here.

Peter Snyder, University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water and Climate:

Minnesota: 3rd fastest-warming state in the USA (Climate Central)

CMIP5 Model Ensemble Predictions (image above courtesy of

* 4-6 F. warming by 2100

* minimum winter temperatures (nighttime lows) forecast to warm the most.

* increase in winter cloudcover over time.

* 20% reduction in snowfall by 2100 (more rain and mixed precipitation during winter months).

* current average winter snowfall at MSP: 55″ forecast to be one foot less by 2100.

* Overall increase in precipitation forecast for eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Jeff Masters, Founder, Weather Underground:

Consensus on sea level rise by 2100: around 1 meter, or 3 feet.

Hurricane damage is doubling every 20 years.

Models suggest fewer hurricanes in a warmer world, but more extreme (Category 3+) storms.

Florida/Bahamas may be most at risk.

Warming oceans: odds of a San Diego/Los Angeles hurricane are increasing. Mediterranean Sea forecast to become warm enough to support hurricane activity.

2012: ten separate billion-dollar weather disasters, second only to 2011.

$20 billion in severe storm damage so far in 2012, much of it from the massive derecho that swept across the Ohio Valley into the Mid Atlantic region – the most damaging/deadly on record

Flood control systems: designed for 20th century storms.

Top 10 Most expensive disasters since 1980: 6 out of the top 10 were hurricanes, 3 were droughts.

1988 heat wave and drought: 7,500 Americans died (!) with a damage estimate of $78 billion.

Drought: key driver of climate change (more heat = more intense drought). Link to extreme storms more tenuous. has a new section focused on local impacts of climate change, state by state.

During the last 7 years we’ve broken pretty much every kind of weather record there is, from heat to tornadoes to floods...”

John Abraham. University of St. Thomas:

All the volcanoes of the world produuce less greenhouse gas emissions than the state of Florida“.

Greenhouse gas levels higher now than they’ve been in 800,000 years.

Evidence of changing climate not dependent on one data source: numerous threads of evidence.

10 of the 11 warmest years on record, worldwide, observed since 1998.

No atmospheric blanket of gases to trap warmth: Earth’s temperature would be closer to 0 F, not 59 F.

CO2 increasing at the rate of 2 ppm/year, or about .5% every year.

Paul Douglas. Co-Founder, Senior Meteorologist at Media Logic Group.

Twin Cities: 16 months/row of warmer than average temperatures. Odds of flipping 20 consecutive “heads” is roughly 1 in 1 million.

331 months/row of global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.

2012 Anomalies. Yes, London was cooler and (much) wetter for much of the summer, but the idea that record heat over the USA was somehow “balanced” by the same magnitude of cooling elsewhere doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. The map above shows 2012 temperature anomalies from January thru August. Everything in yellow/red is warmer than average. Map: NASA GISS.

Minnesota Temperature Trends. Southern Minnesota temperatures since 1980 rising at the rate of 5.5 F/century. Over northern Minnesota temperatures are rising at the rate of 7.2 F/century.

Mitigating climate change will require a level of sustained innovation and American reinvention that will propel the USA into a new competitive paradigm. This is our Energy Moonshot Moment. To remain competitive on a global stage we have to develop new ways to grow our energy infrastructure, jobs and GDP that aren’t totally reliant on fossil fuels.”

Nigeria: Rage of Nature – Flood Ravages Communities Across The Country. Africa has seen an unusual number of severe floods in recent weeks. reports on the extent of flooding; here’s an excerpt: “Horror came in the shape of suicide in one of the resettlement camps in Kogi State where two victims of the ravaging floods decided to take their own lives. They could not bear the loss of properties. Suicide they wrote. In relief camps in Kogi, 20 people have already died. The conditions are not the best. Two bags of rice for 2000 victims per day: How would it go round? First it was the flood which ravaged Lokoja and parts of Kogi State that made the headlines just about three weeks ago. Then came more reports of other incidents of flooding across the country! Areas hitherto never imagined would be flooded started recording same in its most destructive forms…”

Photo credit above: “Areal view of Lokoja, Kogi State…under the siege of flood.” Photo: Vanguard.

“Ask Paul”. Weather-related questions and comments:

Mr. Douglas-

It’s less than 4 weeks until the start of the Minnesota firearms deer season opener, and we’d like to get your opinion on how you see things shaping up for NE Minnesota (Isabella area is where we hunt.) It’s been a while since we’ve had snow, and the past 2 or 3 years have been warm enough to shed the parka for sweatshirts. Do you see anything that may point to a possible white opener (fingers crossed) or what we could potentially expect for temperatures? I know it’d be a SWAG, but we’re getting excited and we’d appreciate any prognostication you could provide.


Mike Daniels

Mike – SWAG is right! The models have (minimal) skill for a specific point or location out to about 20 days, give or take, depending on the pattern. So there’s no way (yet) to give you a detailed forecast for an event nearly 1 month away. I wish there were, but I’m giving it to you straight. Long-range models show a warming trend next week (a run of 60s likely) followed by a cool-down into the 40s and low 50s the last week of October. Beyond that the crystal ball gets murky very fast. Right now I don’t see a (major) snow event for the Arrowhead between now and November 3. In all probability we’ll have a series of Alberta Clippers, and there’s a good chance that this year’s Firearms Deer Season Opener will be cold enough for flurries and snow showers. I highly doubt it’ll be as mild as last year, when many northern locations didn’t see their first flurries until November 9. You have at least a 40-50% probability of enough snow (1″ or more) for tracking this time around. That’s a guestimation, but I suspect a more “normal” early November, statewide. Stay tuned – I’ll be keeping an eye on this in the coming weeks, but for now cautious optimism is in order!

Implications Of El Nino For San Diego. Details from the San Diego office of the National Weather Service: “The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a weak El Nino to develop this winter (slightly elevated sea surface temperatures near the east central equatorial Pacific Ocean). As seen in the graphic below, there is not much correlation between this phenomenon and rainfall amounts at San Diego and surrounding areas. Moderate and strong El Nino events have a much better correlation to above average rainfall for San Diego and Southern California. Years listed contain rainfall data at Lindbergh Field from July to July during past weak El Nino events.”


Fall Magic. Thanks to Shad Van Matre for sharing this photo, taken in northern Illinois yesterday.


Denali Sunrise. Another day, another postcard-worthy sky above Denali National Park and Preserve.

What’s In The Big Apple’s Air? Rubber, Rust and Dead Skin Particles. Mmmm. Take a deep breath and enjoy the fresh New York City air. I’ll never think the same way about walking down 5th Avenue after reading this story in The New York Daily News; here’s a snippet: “Big Apple air is a bizarre brew of bacteria, pollen, clothing fiber, fungus, tire rubber, dead skin cells, cooking fat and carbon emissions. The truth of exactly what New Yorkers breathe comes courtesy of air expert Bill Logan, who grabbed a “spore sucker” of his own design and joined the Daily News for a tour of the city. The results might surprise you. Yes, there’s the expected pollution in midtown and the South Bronx, and neighborhoods with lots of trees tend to have pollen and fungus in the air. But each breath you take — about 33,000 a day — also might include spores, bacteria, pollens, tiny bits of glass, starch and fat….”

Photo credit: Manhattan skyline photo courtesy of WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick.

9 Marvelous Things The Future Still Hasn’t Delivered. Where’s my flying car, and robotic butler? We have more technology, more ways to stay (frantically) connected, but 2012 isn’t anything like I envisioned 30 years ago. has a good story on promises broken; here’s an excerpt: “Science fiction movies really fed us a line of baloney about the future. From fun popcorn flicks like Back to the Future: Part 2, to highbrow entertainment like 2001: A Space Odyssey, films portraying the future have shown us a whole host of cool stuff we could expect by now, from hovercrafts and flying skateboards to sentient robots. People are seriously embarking on asteroid mining missions, but we have yet to experience hovercraft use on a mass scale. There’s something wrong with that! Priorities, science. Priorities. We still don’t see people zipping up to the moon for a quick weekend — and that’s a real shame. Here are some innovations we thought we’d have by now.”


Extended Outlook

I attended a climate seminar at The Science Museum Saturday, where leading climate scientists shared their latest long-term predictions. Based on current trends and rising greenhouse gas emissions, eastern Minnesota may continue to trend wetter over time, summer dew points should continue to rise, and by 2100 average winter snowfall may drop by a foot, as weather patterns in a warmer world shift northward.

Expect more crazy extremes, more “Weather Whiplash”. Dr. Mark Seeley explained that severe drought has been observed somewhere in Minnesota every summer since 2005. His former colleague, Greg Zandlo, has evidence of three separate 1-in-1,000 year flooding events in southern Minnesota since 2004. All or nothing, it seems.

60s today give rise to a couple of cold frontal passages this week, another metro freeze likely.

Prevailing westerlies finally buckle, pulling Gulf moisture into Minnesota Saturday – but not the multi-inch soaking we need.

Skies clear Sunday, a streak of 60s, even some 70s next week. I’ve thrown in the towel on shorts and T-shirts, but more lukewarm days are on the way.

The reality: a stalled, 3-day, 5-inch rainstorm would look good right about now.


* photo above: Steve Burns.


Climate Stories…

Climate Change, Narcissism, Denial, Apocalypse. The science is critical, but understanding why so many people are still in denial requires further explanation. Here’s an except from an Op Ed by Dr. Robert D. Stolorow at Psychology Today: “On October 5, 2012, on the front page of the Huffington Post, appeared a terrifying image of melting arctic ice, accompanied by the chilling headline, “Arctic Ice Melt and Sea Level Rise May Be ‘Decades Ahead Of Schedule’” Why have the majority of Americans and American politicians been largely oblivious to this extreme threat? I believe there are two principal reasons.The first is unbridled narcissism. Psychoanalytic developmental theorist Erik Erikson famously characterized an essential aim of adulthood as generativity—the caring for the well being of future generations. Climate change most likely will not be a threat for most of us, but it will leave our children, grandchildren, and future descendents with catastrophes of unimaginable proportions. In the deplorable obliviousness and indifference to the problem of climate change, any concern for the well being of future generations is being blatantly trumped by narrow self-interest and greed.”



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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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