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One of the Quietest, Driest Weeks of 2012

$1 billion. The amount of money that reportedly changed hands (legal gambling) as a result of Monday night’s blown call against the Green Bay Packers. Source: ESPN. Photo credit:

Driest September Since 1882. We’ve picked up a paltry .30″ rain so far this month, nearly 2.5″ less than average, to date. Only 1882 was drier (.27″ for the month). So unless something changes between now and Sunday this should wind up being the second driest September in modern day records. Source: Minnesota Climate Office.


Drier Than Normal. The 84-hour NAM model prints out a narrow band of showers across the Ohio River Valley into Pennsylvania, spreading into southern New England by Thursday morning.  Scattered T-showers pop up frm Florida into Texas by the end of the week, while the west stays dry and hot.


“…Climate change is accelerating. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) has risen by 31% since 1750 and is now at the highest concentration seen in the last 420,000 years…” – from a Huffington Post story below.


“…The future points to intense, less frequent precipitation; and wetter winters and springs, along with drier summers, Jarchow said. “We are seeing more events like 3 inches (of precipitation) followed by long periods of no rain, compared to spread-out rainfalls. That requires much adjustment,” she said…” – from a story at The Yankton Press & Dakotan; details and links below.

How Hot Was It? (part 2). If a picture tells a thousands words, then I’ve just run out of reasons to keep typing. Here is a collection of photos that sum up the relentless, at times unbearable heat of the Summer of 2012. Thanks to Gary Botzek from


NOAA’s Main Weather Satellite Goes Offline Amidst Hurricane Season. GOES-13 began vibrating and then went dead. Another geosynchronous weather satellite is being positioned to take its place – forecasters hoping there are no big hurricanes in the Atlantic in the interim. Here’s a good summary of where things stand from Think Progress: “In the midst of the very active North Atlantic hurricane season, the main weather satellite scientists use for keeping tabs on the weather across eastern North America and the Atlantic Ocean has gone offline. [Climate Central] A San Diego County brush fire that has already destroyed 20 homes and damaged 10 others continued to threaten an additional 80 homes, officials said. [Los Angeles Times] Forty-seven Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing Speaker John Boehner to eliminate the wind production tax credit, a tax break that has split Republicans and drawn criticism from presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. [Reuters]

Using Polar-Orbiting Satellite Data To Help Fill In The Gaps During A GOES-13 Outage. Yes, satellite data has been wonky in recent days; there’s an explanation – here’s an excerpt from the CIMSS Satellite Blog from The University of Wisconsin: “The GOES-13 (GOES-East) satellite suffered anomalies that forced it to be placed into standby mode late in the day (at 21:22 UTC) on 23 September 2012 (NOAA NESDIS notification message). The GOES-15 (GOES-West) satellite was then placed into Full Disk scan mode, supplying images to cover as much of the eastern US and adjacent offshore waters as possible at 30-minute intervals. During the GOES-13 outage, satellite imagery viewed in AWIPS on the “CONUS” scale did not display the complete full disk scan information from GOES-15, resulting in large areas with no data over the southeastern and eastern US (note: the full GOES-15 scan sector is available when viewed on the AWIPS “North America” scale, but the data resolution is degraded due to the very large satellite viewing angle).”

Weather Service Warns That 1938-Type Hurricane Could Someday Devastate Massachusetts. Meteorologists are concerned about a growing sense of apathy, an “it can’t happen here” mentality, especially over coastal New England. Here’s an excerpt of an ominous article at “If a storm similar to the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 were to strike again, communities in Buzzards Bay could be devastated, according to a computerized model developed by the National Weather Service. “It’s beautiful to live at the coast, that’s for sure, but one of these days it’s going to get us,” said Glenn Field, warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service in Taunton. The SLOSH, or Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes, model was used to simulate a Category 3 hurricane traveling at 60 miles per hour, similar to the 1938 storm, moving through Narragansett Bay, just west of Buzzards Bay, Field said.”

Photo credit above: “Could this happen again someday? The 1938 hurricane left the heart of Providence…” (Associated Press )


Concerns Grow As Tsunami Debris Continues To Arrive In U.S. The forecast calls for…debris? Here’s an excerpt from Stars and Stripes: “HONOLULU — Concern is growing about the potential effects on the environment and on boating as more tsunami debris from Japan reaches Hawaii and the western coast of Canada and the United States. Japanese officials confirmed Friday that a container fished out of the ocean Wednesday off Windward Oahu between the Makai Research Pier and Rabbit Island was tsunami debris. The 4-foot-tall blue bin was spotted floating 150 yards offshore. It was encrusted with crabs and barnacles and contained dead birds. In addition, officials continued to look Friday for a floating concrete dock, about 50 by 30 feet, reported by Maui fishermen and last seen Wednesday afternoon about 15 miles northwest of Molokai.”

Photo credit above: “In this Sept. 19, 2012 file photo provided by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, a worker removes barnacles and other marine life from the bottom of a large blue plastic bin in Honolulu. There were no foreign plant or animal species on the bin, the first confirmed piece of marine debris from last year’s tsunamis in Japan to arrive in Hawaii.” (AP Photo/Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources, File)

This School-Bus-Sized-Satellite Will Deliver Insanely Accurate Weather Reports. The data may be insanely accurate – let’s hope it leads to a noticeable improvement in forecast accuracy. It’s not always a direct line from A to B. And any improvements will probably be limited to Europe, but having better “eyes in the sky” benefits a global community of weather consumers, no question. Here’s an excerpt of a story at “Europe will receive nearly infallible weather data thanks to this trio of school bus-sized spacecraft, and the EU saves £4.5 billion in weather-related damage annually. This is what the atmosphere will look like in HD. The satellite MetOp-B, which launched yesterday, is part of a 3.2 billion Euro joint venture between the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).”


Dropsondes – Work Horses In Hurricane Forecasting. These little instruments that drop (via parachute) into hurricanes send back vital data to NHC forecasters. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has a good article about how they work; here’s an excerpt: “Small cylinders dropped from airplanes gather atmospheric data on their way down. Inside a cylinder that is about the size of a roll of paper towels lives a circuit board filled with sensors. It’s called a dropsonde, or “sonde” for short. It’s a work horse of hurricane forecasting, dropping out of “Hurricane Hunter” airplanes right into raging storms. As the sonde falls through the air, its sensors gather data about the atmosphere to help us better understand climate and other atmospheric conditions. “Dropsondes have a huge impact on our understanding of hurricanes and our ability to predict hurricanes,” explains electrical engineer Terry Hock at the Earth Observing Laboratory in the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), located in Boulder, Colo.” Photo: NCAR.

Curiosity’s Weather Report From Mars Reveals “Truly Enormous” Daily Atmospheric Pressure Swings. Oh, to be a weatherguy on Mars. Here’s a snippet from a fascinating story about weather extremes on the surface of Mars from “…Over the last 35 years, a total of four NASA probes had reached the Martian surface and returned weather data. “These earlier observations had shown a large daily cycle in temperature and air pressure on Mars. The atmospheric temperature near the surface of Mars generally varies by more than 100 F. between day and night because of the overall thinner Martian atmosphere and lack of oceans and their moderating influence,” says Hamilton.”

Photo credit above: “Image of a dust storm on Mars from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.” Credit: Jet Propulsion Lab.


WeatherTalk: Russian Research Station In Antarctica Records Minus 129 F. Good grief. Remind me not to complain about -20 F. ever again. Details from Fargo/Moorhead’s “Antarctica is by far the coldest area on the planet. The coldest temperature recorded on Earth was recorded at Vostok, the Russian Antarctica research station in July 1983, when the temperature plunged to minus 129 degrees. That same station, just last week, recorded a low temperature of minus 119 degrees on Sept. 16. That was very close to the coldest temperature recorded on earth during the month of September of minus 122 degrees at that very same site.”

A Finger In The Wind: Forecasters Of Yesteryear. Yes, I have my bootleg copy of the Farmers’ Almanac in my (locked) desk drawer – always fun and informative to see their predictions for the upcoming season. Hey, I’m not ruling anything out – and neither should you. The more data points the better. Here’s an excerpt of an article that provides some historical context with weather forecasting thru the ages: “From the beginning of time, weather and the forecasting of it have affected the course of history. Accordingly, the quest to understand, forecast, and adequately communicate conditions in a timely manner has consumed civilization in one form or another for hundreds and even thousands of years. Based on Aristotle’s treatise on earth sciences Meteorologica, the name “meteorology” has come to mean the science of the atmosphere and weather. But long before the Greeks delved into the tenuous world of weather observation and prognostication, ancient Babylonians—among the earliest weather forecasters—had learned enough about the subject to write “when a cloud grows dark in heaven, a wind will blow,” opening the door to exploration and discovery.”


“Ask Paul”. Weather-related Q&A:

Paul –

Just took a look at the Fall Colors map on the DNR site and it seems like they’ve actually bumped the Ft. Snelling percentages back down to 25-50%. This essentially has removed all portions of the metro from that 50-75% back down to the 25-50%. Not sure why the ‘downgrade’ in percentage.

You can really see the ‘spotchiness’ on the map now as a handful of state parks are reporting 75-100% color.

Jon deJong

Weather Data Performance Manager @ Telvent


Jon – I see what you mean. Baffling. The latest Minnesota DNR fall foliage map is here. Colors are peaking north of St. Cloud and from Crosby to Aitkin – more intense color along the North Shore of Lake Superior and the International Falls area. Thanks for the note.


Only 1882 Was Drier

Let’s review state capitals and fantasy football pics…and give thanks we didn’t take a part-time NFL referee gig. Ouch. There’s no “weather” out there, and won’t be looking out more than a week.

This is why I plead with atmospherically-challenged June brides to consider late September for that “little outdoor wedding for 350 people”. The odds are in your favor.

The Force is with you.

Spring comes earlier (most years), and autumns tend to be super-sized now; weather since 2000 consistently warm enough for golf as late as November. If you need dry weather for an outdoor bash, odds of quiet, dry, sunny weather are much higher in autumn than spring or summer. Especially during a drought.

I’m enjoying a lukewarm blue sky just as much as the next guy, but I agree with NOAA: our drought will, in all probability, get worse in the months to come. I don’t see a drop of rain for most towns thru the end of next week.

Cool 60s today give way to 70s from Friday into Tuesday of next week.

Sketchy long-range model guidance is hinting at some rain the first weekend of October. At .30 inches, this will be the driest September since 1882; second driest on record.

Let it rain.


Climate Stories…

NASA: Arctic Cyclone Breaks Up Sea Ice. A series of major storms accelerated Arctic ice loss during August and September; more details in this excerpt from Staple News: “Watch how the winds of a large Arctic cyclone broke up the thinning sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean in early August 2012. The storm likely contributed to the ice cap’s shrinking to the smallest recorded extent in the past three decades. The frozen cap of the Arctic Ocean likely reached its annual summertime minimum extent and broke a new record low on Sept. 16, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado in Boulder has reported. Analysis of satellite data by NASA and the NASA-supported NSIDC showed that the sea ice extent shrunk to 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square kilometers), or 293,000 square miles less than the previous lowest extent in the satellite record, set in mid-September, 2007.”

Ice-Free Arctic Is “Uncharted Territory.” Here’s an excerpt from Common Dreams: “UXBRIDGE, Canada – The melt of Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest point this year, shrinking 18 percent from last year’s near-record low. Summer ice this year is half what it was 30 years ago and is now affecting weather patterns. The massive declines in ice in recent summers have shocked scientists and Arctic experts. Some predict that in just a few years we will witness an event that hasn’t happened in millions of years: the complete loss of summer ice. “We are now in uncharted territory,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Colorado.”

Graph above courtesy of JAXA: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Earth Observation Research Center.

Climate Change Adventure: The Arctic’s Melting, So These Guys Sailed Across It. Amazing. The Atlantic has details of a cross-Arctic voyage that would not have been physically possible 10 years ago; here’s an excerpt: “…For centuries European explorers searched for a passage unsuccessfully, until 1906 when an expedition led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen made it across. Since then, better boat and navigation technology have enabled more regular crossings, but the most northern routes have remained off-limits for all but the strongest, diesel-powered, extra-fortified, ice-breaking boats. Until this year, when three men made the complete Northwest crossing through the M’Clure strait (the northernmost of the direct routes) in the Belzebub II — a sailboat with no fortification. Previously, the only boats that had made it through M’Clure were ice-breakers, and none had been able to complete the pass through Viscount Melville Sound after shooting through M’Clure. Usually only either the sound or the straight are open to boats, but not both at once...”

How To Relate Climate Extremes To Climate Change. Is there a connection? Here’s a clip from a story at

Trenberth: “The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be….

The air is on average warmer and moister than it was prior to about 1970 and in turn has likely led to a 5–10 % effect on precipitation and storms that is greatly amplified in extremes. The warm moist air is readily advected onto land and caught up in weather systems as part of the hydrological cycle, where it contributes to more intense precipitation events that are widely observed to be occurring.”

Graphic credit above: “Seasonal Jun-Jul-Aug 2010 sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies relative to 1951–70. Record high SSTs were recorded in the locations and at the times indicated with record flooding nearby.

Undecided Voters Care About Global Warming, Report Finds. Here’s an excerpt from Live Science: “Only about 7 percent of likely voters have not yet decided whether they will support Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, a new national survey finds. But on the topic of climate change, at least, these undecideds look more like Obama supporters than Romney voters. Undecided voters are more likely than Romney voters to see climate change as an important issue, and their desire for government action approaches levels seen in Obama voters. What’s more, undecideds are as likely as Obama supporters to believe that global warming is happening and that humans are causing it.”


U.S. Needs Climate Change Plan, Carbon Tax, Says Sachs. Here’s a clip from an article at “The U.S. needs a policy to address climate change and a plan to reduce emissions that may include a carbon tax and bonds, Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs said. “We have to make a technological transition that’s quite deep to new energy systems, new transport systems, more efficient buildings and that can be back loaded,” Sachs said to reporters today at Climate Week NYC in New York. The public needs a plan that isn’t just about electricity prices rising, said Sachs. “You can’t tell the public that our plan is cap-and-trade,” he said. “That’s not a plan, that’s frightening, that just means: our electricity prices are going up.”

USD Panel: “Climate Change Will Change Us.” Here’s another article that caught my eye, an excerpt of a story from The Yankton Press & Dakotan: “VERMILLION — At Monday’s forum, University of South Dakota panelists found global warming to be a very hot topic. “Global Warming: The Evidence Is In!” covered the scientific data pointing to global warming. But the panelists also acknowledged the political, social, economic and religious issues. Climate change will directly affect agriculture and the way an exploding world population is fed, according to Dr. Meghann Jarchow, assistant professor of Sustainability in the Department of Biology. The future points to intense, less frequent precipitation; and wetter winters and springs, along with drier summers, Jarchow said.”

Photo credit above: “Dr. Meghann Jarchow, assistant professor of Sustainability, speaks about the challenges facing agriculture because of climate change during Monday’s international forum at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.” (Kelly Hertz/P&D)


“The Climate Clock Is Ticking”. Bianca Jagger (yes, that Jagger) has a story at Huffington Post that caught my eye Tuesday; here’s an excerpt: “…If you had told me twenty years ago that by 2012 global carbon emissions would have increased by around 50%, that 1 billion people in the world would be hungry, that fossil fuel subsidies would amount to $1 trillion a year, I would have been horrified. The science cannot be ignored. Climate change is accelerating. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) has risen by 31% since 1750 and is now at the highest concentration seen in the last 420,000 years. August 2012 was the fourth warmest such month on record worldwide. July 2012 was the hottest month on record for the continental US. In June 2012 monitoring stations in the Arctic showed the highest ever recorded concentrations of carbon dioxide, of over 400 ppm (parts per million). The rest of the world will soon follow suit. Between the 8th and the 12th of July 2012 the melted ice area in Greenland increased from the usual 40% to 97%: a 57% increase over the course of just four days. On 4 September, sea ice extent fell below four million sq km, a record low in the 33-year satellite record...”

“Utter Nonsense.” 10 Scientists Who Have Criticized Fox’s Climate Coverage. Media Matters has the story; here’s the introduction: “An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that 93 percent of Fox News’ recent climate change coverage was misleading. Over the last two years, several leading scientists have told Media Matters the same thing, calling Fox’s climate change stories “completely wrong,” “patently false,” and “utter nonsense.” Here are ten scientists who have criticized Fox for distorting science to downplay the threat of climate change:

1. Scientist Called Fox’s Global Warming Claims “Utter Nonsense.”

Last summer, Fox News hosted global warming “expert” Joe Bastardi to claim that the human-induced climate change contradicts the 1st law of thermodynamics and Le Chatelier’s Principle. Duke University scientist William Chameides called Bastardi’s claims “utter nonsense,” and the University of Chicago’s David Archer said Fox is “wrong” to suggest that these basic principles negate the risks of climate change. Richard Muller, a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, agreed that Bastardi’s claims are “completely wrong,” adding that “even skeptics of global warming, if they know physics, would disagree with him.” Even Judith Curry, a climatologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a frequent critic of the IPCC, said that Bastardi’s statements imply that “he does not understand the very basics of the science.” She added, “Fox News needs to find a more credible spokesperson.”

* here is a long list of Bastardi’s factual errors and persistent confusion about how science and physics really works. CO2 can’t cause warming? In short, he is using hand-waving arguments and blog posts to try and invalidate 200 years of scientific discovery. Joe Bastardi is a gifted meteorologist and weather forecaster but on the subject of climate science? Not so much.



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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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