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Ski Texas: Major Snow Event Shaping Up Southern Plains by Sunday (taste of January east of the Rockies)

22 Nov 2013, 7:45 am

Winter Whispers

Life is random; our future ultimately unknowable. Maybe that’s why we take some small comfort in the weather forecast. It’s one of the few things we can anticipate with any level of skill.

Perfect? Not by a long shot. The 24-hour forecast accuracy, nationwide, is 88 percent. It’s human nature to remember the 12 percent of the time we blow it. Day 3-7 accuracy is improving about 1 percent every year, and new technology has made “surprise” tornadoes, floods & blizzards more unlikely.

Predicting the future is hard. Ask any stock broker or economist. How’s your fantasy football team doing? Welcome to my world.


Ski Texas. The 12km NAM model shows some (very) plowable amounts of snow over northern Texas and southern Oklahoma. Skiers will be happy over southern Colorado – lake effect snows piling up as deep as 4-8″ into Sunday night. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather.


Blue Norther. That’s what they call vigorous Canadian cold fronts racing across Texas, capable of dropping temperatures 40F or more in the span of a few hours, sometimes under blue skies. The 32F isotherm pushes as far south as Mexico, helping to whip up significant snow and ice across Texas. A frost/freeze is possible from Huntsville to Atlanta by Sunday morning. Animation: NOAA and Ham Weather.


Coldest Weather Into Early December: New England. The winds aloft will be “modified Pacific” for much of the central and western USA into the first week of December, the coldest winds of Canada brushing New England over the next 1-2 weeks. Map: NOAA.


Extended Temperatures Outlook. The map above shows NAEFS guidance between November 29 and December 5, a chilly bias for much of the south and east, while temperatures begin to moderate over the rest of the USA. Map: NOAA.


A Wintry Sting. The coldest air of the winter season is draining south, sparking heavy snow over the southern Plains by Sunday, a noticeable wind chill east of the Rockies. In today’s Climate Matters we track the chill, define a “Blue Norther” and take a look at Thanksgiving weather for a few select cities across the USA: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas shows the newly released NOAA Winter outlook which gives 50/50 chances for much of the US. The Thanksgiving forecast is looking a bit chilly, especially depending on where you live. And Finally, just what is a Blue Norther? And why can it cause a 60° temp drop in a few hours?


Winter Temperature Outlook. NOAA just released their latest prediction for December through February. Their Climate Prediction Center shows a cool bias for the Dakotas and Red River Valley, considerably warmer than average temperatures expected over the southern USA and portions of New England, as well as western Alaska. Interesting fodder for casual conversations about the weather, but (as always) don’t bet the farm based on (any) long range forecast.


NOAA’s Winter Precipitation Outlook. This is something of a head-scratcher, a slight dry bias for portions of the Southwest and Southeast, wetter/snowier than average for the northern Rockies, otherwise go ahead and flip a coin – most of America forecast to see winter precipitation very close to average.


* Mile Halpert at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has a video clip with more details here.


Super Bowl 2014 Forecast: 50 Years Of Weather Stats Hint At Mother Nature’s Playbook. Speaking of vague, nebulous long-range forecasts. When in doubt, which is much of the time, come to think of it, go with the long-term weather averages. Here’s an excerpt of a good story about Super Bowl 2014 weather predictions for New Jersey from The Star Ledger at “Throw out the Farmer’s Almanac. The forecast for kickoff time at Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium: Partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid- to upper-30s. Obviously, pinning down the exact forecast for the big game three months out is impossible, but statistically, based on historical records provided by the state’s climatologist, that is the most likely scenario when the nation’s most prominent sporting event comes to New Jersey. Could it be 65 degrees and clear? Sure. Could it be 20 with blizzard conditions? It’s not out of the question…”

Photo credit above: “A chilly, but dry evening is the most likely weather for kickoff at the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.” (Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger).


Judah Cohen’s Winter Outlook: A Downer For East Coast Winter Weather Lovers. Cohen specializes in long range forecasting, and his recent track record is impressive. He has perfected the art of linking snowcover in Sibera with weather downwind over North America, but this year he sees conflicting signals. Here’s a clip from an interview conducted with The Capital Weather Gang: “…I have to admit that I am struggling with how to interpret the conflicting predictions based on Siberian snow cover. . . . Based on what I have seen so far the hemispheric circulation of the atmosphere has evolved more consistently as if the Siberian snow cover was below normal or closer to the prediction derived from the SAI. Therefore, this favors an overall positive winter AO. However I do see signs, based on the large-scale energy propagation of the atmosphere, that favor building of high pressure in the mid-high latitudes in the near term and that should help to support colder temperatures and even a negative AO right at the start of winter. Eventually I would expect atmospheric conditions to favor a more positive AO but that is no guarantee…”

Graphic credit above: “The correlation between the Snow Advance Index (SOI) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) over time.” (Judah Cohen).


Persistent Drought. NOAA’s forecast through the end of February, 2014, shows drought conditions persisting from much of the Midwest into the Southwest. Drought conditions are forecast to develop over the Southeast, from Mobile to Atlanta, Jacksonville and the Carolinas.


Oregon Department Of Forestry Experiences Record-Breaking Wildfire Season. More details from; here’s the intro: “Oregon Department of Forestry officials will report to a legislative committee on Thursday about the costs of the wildfire season, asking for money to balance the books. This happens every year, but this time the numbers are historic. “This was the most costly season in history,” said Dan Postrel, ODF spokesman. The season cost ODF a record $122 million and burned more than 100,000 acres of land under the department’s responsibility. That’s the most acreage scorched in one season in 60 years, Postrel said…”

Photo credit above: “The Douglas complex in southern Oregon was one of the most challenging wildfires during the 2013 season, persisting until mid-September.” (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)


Losses From Extreme Weather Rise To $200 Billion A Year Over Past Decade. Reuters has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Global economic losses caused by extreme weather events have risen to nearly $200 billion a year over the last decade and look set to increase further as climate change worsens, a report by the World Bank showed on Monday. A United Nations’ panel of scientists has warned that floods, droughts and storms are likely to become more severe over the next century as greenhouse gas emissions warm the world’s climate. “Economic losses are rising – from $50 billion each year in the 1980s to just under $200 billion each year in the last decade and about three quarters of those losses are a result of extreme weather,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development...



Which Countries Are Most At Risk From Super Storms And Extreme Weather? AlterNet has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…All ten of the countries most at risk from extreme events in the 1993 to 2012 period were developing countries, emphasizing the message in Warsaw that poor countries cannot cope with the increasing number of catastrophes by themselves. The major issue at the conference in the wake of the current Philippine disaster is how to finance “loss and damage” caused by an increasingly unstable climate. The index, compiled by a think tank called Germanwatch from figures supplied by the giant re-insurance company Munich Re, lists ten countries most affected in 2012 and the long-term climate risk from loss of life and damage from 1993 to 2012...” (Image: NASA).



You Can’t Censor Smog. China knows it has a big problem – here’s a clip from Slate: “China is a notoriously difficult country for outsiders to get a handle on, but two things are immediately obvious the second you exit the airport. One, that the country is undergoing an unprecedented level of economic growth. Two, the country is in the midst of an ecological catastrophe. You literally breathe in both of them. Despite all I had read before going to China last month, I was a bit blasé about Beijing’s famous smog. I’ve lived in cities all my life and once spent a few months in Moscow—a place not exactly known for its pristine air quality. Surely, for a three-day visit, it couldn’t be that bad…”


The IPO Of You And Me: How Normal People Are Becoming Corporations. Would you be willing to take some up-front cash now for a percentage of future earnings? Some people are doing just that, as reported at New York Magazine; here’s an excerpt: “What do Twitter, Berkshire Hathaway, and your best friend Dave have in common? Pretty soon, you might be able to buy stock in all three. We’ve heard a lot about corporate personhood – the idea that, as one former Massachusetts governor put it, “Corporations are people.” But there’s a new hot concept in the land of personal finance: personal corporatehood, the notion that people can act like corporations. Increasingly, amid record-high stock markets that have rewarded anything with a ticker symbol, normal people are finding new ways to sell stock, lash themselves to investors, and throw themselves at the market’s mercy…”


When Your TV Is Watching You. If you weren’t already creeped out, you will be after reading this story at DoctorBeet’s Blog; here’s an excerpt: “Earlier this month I discovered that my new LG Smart TV was displaying ads on the Smart landing screen. After some investigation, I found a rather creepy corporate video advertising their data collection practices to potential advertisers. It’s quite long but a sample of their claims are as follows: LG Smart Ad analyses users favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences. For example, LG Smart Ad can feature sharp suits to men, or alluring cosmetics and fragrances to women…”


Manta Resort Offers A Private Island Where You Sleep Beneath The Waves. Gizmag has a story about a very unique hotel; here’s a clip: “Underwater accommodations seem to have become a trend among hotels in recent years, but a resort off the coast of Tanzania is now putting a unique spin on the concept. The Manta Resort recently unveiled its Underwater Room, a three-floor suite that floats beside a thriving coral reef and boasts a submerged master bedroom surrounded by windows to view the local sea life…”

Climate Stories…

Just 90 Companies Caused Two-Thirds Of Man-Made Global Warming Emissions. Details from The Guardian: “The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests. The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms. The analysis, which was welcomed by the former vice-president Al Gore as a “crucial step forward” found that the vast majority of the firms were in the business of producing oil, gas or coal, found the analysis, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Climatic Change…”
Graphic above courtesy of Carbon Majors.

* Andrew Revkin at The New York Times asks, are these 90 companies to blame, or are we, as consumers of these products and services, ultimately to blame?


Cheap But Imperfect: Can Geoengineering Slow Climate Change? God help us if it gets to the point where we’re pouring chemicals into the stratosphere to try to cool things down. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point. The German publication Der Spiegel has the story – here’s the intro: “Canadian environmental scientist David Keith wants to change the world’s climate by creating a type of sun filter in the sky to halt global warming. In an interview, he argues the technology is effective and inexpensive, but critics liken it to a nuclear bomb. While delegates meeting in Warsaw at the United Nations climate talks push for targets for reducing greenhouse gases, a small splinter group of scientists is promoting an entirely different approach to fighting climate change: They want to artficially manipulate the planet’s climate to help stop global warming…”

Image credit above: ESA. “The 1991 explosion of the Mount Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines. “Aerosoles in the stratosphere reduce the rate of climate change,” says David Keith.”

Unavoidable Answer For The Problem Of Climate Change. Here’s a clip from a story at The New York Times: “…It brings into sharp focus the most urgent challenge: How will the world replace fossil fuels? Can it be done fast enough, cheaply enough and on a sufficient scale without nuclear energy? For all the optimism about the prospects of wind, sun and tides to power our future, the evidence suggests the answer is no. Scrambling to find an alternative fuel to generate some 30 percent of its power, Japan had no choice but to turn to coal and gas…”


Globe’s Unbroken Warm Streak Approaches 29 Years. Details from Climate Central; here’s the introduction to the article: “The globe’s unbroken hot streak is inching closer to 29 years, with new data showing that October was the 344th consecutive month with global average surface temperatures above the 20th century average.  According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released on Monday, the global average surface temperature for the month of October was 1.13°F above the 20th century average (1961-1990) for the month. That’s enough to make this the seventh-warmest October on record in what is also likely to be the seventh-warmest year on record, according to a recent report from the World Meteorological Organization. The last time the globe had a cooler-than-average month was February 1985, and the last cooler-than-average October occurred in 1976, shortly before Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in that year’s presidential election…”

Graphic credit above: “Global temperature departures from average for October 2013, which was the seventh-warmest October on record.” Credit: NOAA.


Coal Seen As New Tobacco Sparking Investor Backlash: Commodities. Bloomberg has the story; here’s an excerpt: “About $8 trillion of known coal reserves lie beneath the earth’s surface. The companies planning to mine and burn them are being targeted by a growing group of investors concerned with the greenhouse gases that will be made. Storebrand ASA (STB), which manages $74 billion of assets from Norway, sold out of 24 coal and oil-sands companies since July including Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU), the largest U.S. coal producer, citing a desire to cut fossil-fuel industry holdings. This month Norway’s opposition Labour Party proposed banning the country’s $800 billion sovereign wealth fund from coal investments…”

Photo credit above: “Coal, whose burning spews about twice the greenhouse gases as natural gas, is not in retreat. In 2011, coal was used to generate 30.3 percent of the world’s primary energy, the highest level since 1969, according to the World Coal Association, an industry trade group. That share slipped only to 29.9 percent last year.” Photographer: Dadang Tri/Bloomberg.


Oxygen Nation: Whatever Your Politics, Embrace Your Inner Tree Hugger. It turns out we’re all tree huggers, according to Minnesota native Craig Bowron. Here’s an excerpt of a his recent essay at Huffington Post: “…This kind of branding trivializes the battle over climate change as an alarmist ploy from the “greenies,” who care more about spotted owls and rare Amazonian frogs than they do their fellow humans. It gives the appearance that the struggle isn’t about the science or its implications, but only about a way of life. It’s the Audubon Society against the NFL. You stare at your birds, I’ll stare at my flat-screen TV. Rather conveniently, this cognitive severing of the intimate link between ourselves and the rest of the Earth allows us to take what we think we need, whatever the cost, the way condemning natives as godless savages greased the wheels of Colonialism…” (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons).



The 10 Dumbest Things Climate Deniers Say. MarketWatch has the Op-Ed; here’s an excerpt: “…Here’s a paraphrased summary of Diamond’s classic rhetorical one-liners with links to some of our relevant commentaries:


1. Climate costs must be balanced against jobs and the economy


This is Big Oil’s favorite argument. In fact, the only “jobs and economy” the oil industry cares about are their own hundreds of thousands of jobs, over $100 billion in annual profits and trillions in revenues the last decade. Diamond warns: environmental solutions are not a “luxury” with just a cash outflow. “This one-liner puts the truth exactly backwards. … Environmental messes cost us huge sums of money both in the short run and in the long run” and “cleaning up or preventing those messes saves us huge sums in the long run, and often in the short run as well…”



David Suzuki: Energy Choices Risk Climate Chaos For Atlantic Canada. Here’s a clip from a story at Vancouver’s “…For his captivating documentary, Climate Change in Atlantic Canada, Ian Mauro, an environmental and social scientist at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, interviewed farmers, fishers, local residents, First Nations community members, scientists and business people from all around the Atlantic provinces. All say climate change is affecting their communities and livelihoods. They also agree something must be done and that the “business as usual” scenario is no longer an option. The heart of the problem is our seemingly unquenchable thirst for mainly fossil-fuel based energy resources. As our desire for comfort and efficiency grows, so does our energy consumption, prompting the search for sources increasingly difficult to extract…”


The Actual Probability Of Earth Going To Hell In The Next Few Decades. Gizmodo takes a look, with the aid of cutting-edge model visualizations, in this story – here’s an excerpt: “…We wanted to find a way of communicating climate risks in a way that showed exactly what climate scientists meant when they say likely or unlikely,” co-producer Owen Gaffney told Sploid, “while the terminology can sound a little vague, it is more precise than most people realize.” The visualization—funded by the UN Foundation for the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and made by our friend Felix Pharand Deschenes—is based on 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data. It ties the IPCC findings with the effects of the Anthropocene, the new geological era that refers to the effect of humans on Earth ecosystems, including the transformation of terrain and life all around us…”


Africa’s Green Shoots. Africa is bearing a disproportional amount of the impact of a warming climate, as reported in this article at BusinessDay; here’s a snippet: “…If a sign of things to come were needed, one would do well to look at Africa, which is already highly vulnerable to climate variability. Further volatility could be ruinous. Two-thirds of the continent is desert or drylands, and three-quarters of its agricultural drylands are significantly degraded. The Sahara Desert is expanding: Lake Chad, for example, is now one-tenth of its size a half-century ago. The worst conditions are in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, where drought and famine have left more than one million children at risk of severe malnutrition. Africa emits a mere 4 percent of the world’s CO2, but it suffers most from its ill effects. That said, Africans bear some of the blame, too: for example, four million hectares of African forest disappear annually – twice the global rate of deforestation…”



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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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