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Quiet Weather (impact of record Arctic ice melt on upcoming winter?)

14 Sep 2012, 6:06 am

First Frost? No, I’m not ready for this either. No frost in the immediate Twin Cities thru the end of next week, but some flowers may freeze their buds off closer to Duluth and Hibbing by Friday morning. If skies are perfectly clear and winds become calm there’s a good chance. Details from NOAA:







Fall Color Slightly Ahead of Schedule? According to the Minnesota DNR 25-50% of trees in Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota county are already ripening up, about 7-10 days ahead of schedule. Dry weather may be accelerating color, as trees across much of the metro are under stress.

Arctic Ice Melt Could Mean More Extreme Winters For U.S. And Europe. What’s happening at the top of the world will probably have a ripple effect on winter weather from the USA to Europe and Asia. It’s counterintuitive, but a warmer Arctic means a smaller north-south temperature contrast (what meteorologists call “baroclinicity”), which in turn leads to lower jet stream winds. So what? A slower jet increases the potential for blocking patterns, where weather patterns can stall for days, even weeks at a time. Weather is more apt to fall into a rut. It may be a snowy rut, or a mild rut – too early to say at this point in time, but there’s little doubt that record Arctic ice loss will have a domino effect. Here’s an excerpt of a good explanation from Climate Nexus, Climate Central and Huffington Post: “The record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer will echo throughout the weather patterns affecting the U.S. and Europe this winter, climate scientists said on Wednesday, since added heat in the Arctic influences the jet stream and may make extreme weather and climate events more likely. The “astounding” loss of sea ice this year is adding a huge amount of heat to the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere, said Jennifer Francis, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “It’s like having a new energy source for the atmosphere.” Francis was one of three scientists on a conference call Wednesday to discuss the ramifications of sea ice loss for areas outside the Arctic. The call was hosted by Climate Nexus.”

Image credit above: “The extent of Arctic sea ice on Aug. 26, 2012, the day the sea ice dipped to its smallest extent ever recorded in more than three decades of satellite measurements. The line on the image shows the average minimum extent from the period covering 1979-2010.” Credit: NASA/JPL.

Latest Trends. Arctic ice loss should be reaching a minimum in the next 1-2 weeks, leveling out after record ice loss. The previous record ice loss was 2007. Ice coverage and volume is roughly 20% less than it was 5 years ago.
Graphic creditArctic Sea Ice Monitor data: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Earth Observation Research Center

Drought of 2012: Status Quo. Not much change in the U.S. Drought Monitor – the driest conditions from the Midwest into the Central and Southern Plains, a pocket of extreme/exceptional drought over eastern Alabama and Georgia.


Weekend Weather Trends. Here is the latest 84-hour NAM model, showing a fairly nice spell of moderate weather over the northern tier states, a weakening cool front pushing showers into the Northeast Friday night, skies clearing over the weekend across New England. The best chance of heavy showers and T-storms extending from Texas along the Gulf Coast; a growing chance of coastal showers for the Carolinas by Sunday. A stronger cold front pushes showers into Minnesota and the Upper Midwest late Sunday and Monday of next week.

“Nadine”. We’re up to the N’s in the alphabet, but “Nadine” should stay out over the open waters of the mid-Atlantic, not a threat to the U.S coastline. I don’t see any (storms with names) threatening the USA looking out into the third week of September. GFS model data above courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Monster Super Typhoon “Sanba” Aims At Okinawa And South Korea. At a recent AMS conference in Boston I discovered that Atlantic hurricanes are, on average, 40% smaller than Pacific storms. Why? A larger ocean gives these ocean-forming storms more “runway”, more fetch out over warm 80-85 F. water to grow and expand. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting post from The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang: “A large, dangerous typhoon has rapidly gained strength in the western Pacific. Super typhoon Sanba, positioned 690 miles south of Kadena Air Force base, Japan, has peak winds of 155 mph, the equivalent of strong category 4 hurricane, on the cusp of category 5. The storm is headed due north, on a path to pass very near the island of Okinawa, Japan late Saturday or early Sunday local time. After that, the storm is forecast to continue due north towards the southern tip of South Korea Monday, although southern mainland Japan is within the range of possible tracks.”

* image above courtesy of Digital Typhoon.

Bad news for allergy sufferers (at least until the first frost):


Yes, Your Allergies ARE Worse This Year. KARE-11 confirms what those of us who suffer from allergies already know: the drought is making things worse. Check out the video; here’s an excerpt of the story: “If you’re going through tissues like they’re going out of style, you’re not alone. It’s ragweed season, and it’s a doozy. “This time of year I take my prescription allergy medication but I also take Sudafed on top of that, plus I quadruple the strength of my asthma inhaler,” says Kristine Crossman-Little. Kristine is like thousands of others who always suffer at the end of summer, but this year seems to have an extra allergy kick. Why? there are a couple of reasons. First of all, the weather has been nice, which means you’re likely spending more time outdoors with the pollen. Then, there’s the fact that it has been so dramatically dry.”

Allergy Season Made Worse By Drought. Just what you wanted to hear. Details from KWWL-TV in Dubuque: Many Iowans have found the symptoms of allergy season are bad this year. Ragweed, a plant native to Iowa, is the main cause of what people commonly call hay fever. Due to the drought, the pollen count is especially concentrated. Rain helps wash away a weed’s pollen, according to Bob Hartzler, weed specialist with the Iowa State University extension office and ISU professor of agronomy. With a drought this summer, he said, wave after wave of pollen has entered the air — and people’s sinuses. “The fall of the year tends to be very problematic for allergy sufferers, especially those that are pollen allergic,” allergy and asthma doctor Brad McClimon said Tuesday afternoon at Medical Associates in Dubuque. “The weeds, such as ragweed, tend to pollinate in the fall of the year, from about mid-August until the first frost, so we’re right in the midst of the pollen season.”

5-Day Rainfall Outlook. NOAA HPC is predicting some 3-5″ rains from Oklahoma into the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, 2-3″ amounts from Biloxi to Mobile and Pensacola. Florida sees more soakers, some 2″ amounts for Tampa, Naples and Miami.

The Evolution Of Wildfires Around The World. Here’s a link to an amazing animation, courtesy of The New York Time’s Andy Revkin and The Washington Post: “Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth passes along this fascinating video from the NASA Earth Observatory showing the “global pulse of fire” around the world since 2000. NASA offers this bit of commentary: The fire maps show the locations of actively burning fires around the world on a monthly basis, based on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The colors are based on a count of the number (not size) of fires observed within a 1,000-square-kilometer area. White pixels show the high end of the count —as many as 100 fires in a 1,000-square-kilometer area per day. Yellow pixels show as many as 10 fires, orange shows as many as 5 fires, and red areas as few as 1 fire per day.”

Where Is The Hottest Place On Earth? Easy question, but the answer is a bit problematic. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting article from NASA’s Earth Observatory. “In October 2004, ecologist Steve Running visited the Flaming Mountain, a ridge of dark red sandstone on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert and the Tian Shan range. The surface of the mountain is said to reach temperatures of 50 to 80°C (122 to 175°F) in the summer, and a nearby tourist center marks the spot with a huge golden thermometer. It is the hottest place in China, if not the world, or so says the local lore.”

Photo credit above: “According to local lore, the Flaming Mountain is the hottest spot in China. After visiting the site, scientists used NASA data to find out for sure.” (Photograph ©2011 oh contraire.)

Sunset On Muddy Gut Road. Mike Hall snapped this terrific shot near Hancock, Kentucky late yesterday. Perfect.

Top 10 Tornadoes Caught On Surveillance Camera. This is interesting – now that we have so many webcams recording video around the USA, every now and then they catch the arrival of a full-blown tornado. Some incredible footage in this post from “I chose these videos — what I consider to be the top 10 tornadoes caught on security cam — to show the versatility of surveillance solutions.  Granted, the cameras that caught the tornadoes presented here had a different goal when initially installed. But as you can see below, these cameras can often go beyond their intended purpose.  And sometimes, with a little luck, you can get a glimpse at something that otherwise might have gone unseen.”

In-Flight Entertainment. Here is a link to a remarkable web site, one that shows near real-time flights in the air at any given moment. Many flights are delayed by at least 5 minutes, for security reasons. After visiting I have new-found respect for air traffic controllers. Yeah – these men and women are probably underpaid.

Smartphone Shipments Tipped To Pass One Billion In 2016. It’s nothing short of a revolution, from desktop computing to having a supercomputer in your pocket. One that makes voice calls too. Details from “The latest research from NPD DisplaySearch suggests that the smartphone is quickly heading for ubiquity, with annual shipments expected to exceed one billion in 2016. Given there are only seven billion people on the planet, a significant proportion of the earth’s inhabitants can be expected to be carrying one by that point, signalling a huge shift in computer ownership. Who would have thought just ten years ago that most of us would be carrying a computer in our pocket.”

Photo credit above: “Annual smartphone shipments are predicted to double by 2016.” (Photo: Shutterstock)

Not Your Grandfather’s Fishing Boat. 210 mph out on the open ocean? Can you troll behind this baby? Check out the amazing YouTube video focused on Miss GEICO: “The third Outpeformer mini doc follows Miss GEICO’s boat pilot, Marc Granet, to chronicle what it takes to command a championship winning team and drive a boat capable of speeds in excess of 210 miles per hour, over open ocean and choppy waterways.” More details here.

Worried About Chemical or Biological Attacks? Consider a “Biodome”. For the (paranoid) family that wants to be ready for anything and everything; here’s a clip from Time Magazine: “Get your own personal dome to protect you and your family from biological and chemical weapons! “The BioDome is the culmination of years of intense research and product design in the private, medical and military sectors,” said BioDome inventor Martin Gustafson. “We’ve designed a system to meet military requirements that can protect anyone from dangerous chemical/biological agents, in the event of a terrorist attack, accidental chemical spill or biological emergency.” The BioDome comes in two 60-pound cases and inflates itself in 10 minutes into a 10-foot square room – for either indoor or outdoor use – that can house six adults (!) for “up to several days” (!). Comes complete with 4-by-6-foot airlock to keep germs or chem-weaps at bay.”

Photo credit above: The BioDome: “Your 10-minute solution to bio-chemical threats,” the manufacturer says.






Video: Spider Interrupts KOLD-TV Meteorologist. I’m always amused when spiders and bugs crawl across TV webcams, looking like something out of a bad B-action horror film. Here’s an explanation (and video clip) from TVSpy: “KOLD chief meteorologist Chuck George had his weather forecast interrupted by an uninvited guest during last night’s 10 p.m. newscast (video after the jump). The Tucson CBS affiliate’s website said George was unsure of what to do with the large arachnid but gave the the director enough time to take a close up without weather graphics. “He didn’t know if he should call attention to it, afraid the audience wouldn’t be able to see it, but what appeared to be a wolf spider was too large to go unnoticed!



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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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