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Soggy Halloween Central USA (complexities of forecasting specific inch amounts)

Winter Marathon

Yesterday I cheered my amazing wife on as she ran her 4th Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C. She keeps trying to win a 22 year old Marine. Me? All that cheering, standing, texting & picture-taking? I was exhausted. But I’m OK (thanks for asking).

Meteorologists are about to embark on their own personal (winter) marathon. “How many inches of snow in my driveway? Please be specific.”

Humbling but true: every weather scenario, every storm is different. To be able to predict how much snow will fall we look at the precise storm track, moisture content, the degree of vertical motion within a column of air, temperatures in the lowest mile of the atmosphere, ground temperatures (in case there’s melting on contact with warmer surfaces), the location of the dry surge (the dreaded “dry tongue”) as well as a myriad of other data.

4 new model runs are issued every day, and we examine trends from run to run. Do the models agree? If so our confidence level goes up.

Little More Than A Tuesday Coating? Latest runs of the 12km. NAM model suggest a couple of inches of snow in the Midwest, but enough warm air above Minnesota for a fairly quick changeover from a mix to rain Tuesday. Duluth may pick up 1/2 to 1″ of snow, maybe 3″ near Montevideo, with a plowable snow for much of the Black Hills , maybe 2-4″ for Bismarck. Snowfall by 1 am Thursday courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.


Significant Storm Brewing Central USA. A period of heavy wet snow from Montana into the Dakotas tapers as it pushes east Tuesday, the atmosphere warm enough for primarily rain Wednesday into Halloween from the central Plains into the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. 84 hour NAM loop courtesy of Ham Weather.

Atlantic Hurricane Season Quietest In 45 Years, Experts SayReuters has a good recap of the Atlantic hurricane-season-that-wasn’t; here’s an excerpt: “The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season looks set to go down as a big washout, marking the first time in 45 years that the strongest storm to form was just a minor Category 1 hurricane. There could still be a late surprise in the June 1-November 30 season, since the cyclone that mushroomed into Superstorm Sandy was just revving up at this time last year. But so far, at least, it has been one of the weakest seasons since modern record-keeping began about half a century ago, U.S. weather experts say...”

12 Strange Weather Features Of Superstorm Sandy. Yes, Sandy set a number of “firsts”. AP has an eye-opening list, reported at The Fresno Bee; here’s a clip:

3. SNOW: This is the first time the National Hurricane Center ever listed snow or blizzard in their warnings. Three feet of snow fell in West Virginia.
4. GREAT LAKES: It is unusual for 20 foot waves, large surges and tropical force winds to be recorded in the Great Lakes for a coastal tropical storm, but it happened with Sandy.
5. ENERGY: NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division has an experiment program that measures integrated energy of a storm’s surge and waves on a 0 to 6.0 scale. Sandy reached 5.8, passing Katrina as the highest recorded so far

Image credit: “This Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 NOAA satellite image at 10:45 a.m. EDT shows Superstorm Sandy moving westward while weakening across southern Pennsylvania. With tropical storm force winds that extended for 1,000 miles, Sandy was the largest Atlantic system on record.” NOAA — AP Photo.

Read more here:
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A Year After Sandy, A Slow Recovery For Thousands. Here’s an excerpt of a good overview from AP and ABC News: “A year after Superstorm Sandy catastrophically flooded hundreds of miles of eastern U.S. coastline, thousands of people still trying to fix their soaked and surf-battered homes are being stymied by bureaucracy, insurance disputes and uncertainty over whether they can even afford to rebuild. Billions of dollars in federal aid appropriated months ago by Congress have yet to reach homeowners who need that money to move on. Many have found flood insurance checks weren’t nearly enough to cover the damage. And worse, new federal rules mean many in high-risk flood zones may have to either jack their houses up on stilts or pilings — an expensive, sometimes impossible task — or face new insurance rates that hit $10,000 or more per year…”

Editorial: Keep The Sense Of Sandy Urgency. A hurricane year like the one we just had can breed complacency. Long Island’s Newsday reminds us that storms similar in scope to Sandy are inevitable in this editorial; here’s a clip: “…Many still are caught in the storm’s aftermath. Houses still are being demolished and repaired. Hundreds of exiled families have yet to return. Some businesses have yet to reopen. Our power company has a new structure with more accountability and big plans but still is vulnerable. Sandy taught us a lot. It taught us that a house near the water or with a view of it might not be an ever appreciating investment. It taught us that a damaged house or one with no power could put a family in crisis. It taught us that we were not prepared…”

Drought Could Worsen In Major Crop AreaAgWeb has the story; here’s the introduction: “Despite widespread, harvest-slowing rains over a wide swath of the Upper Midwest in October, the long-term drought is expected to persist or intensify across much of Iowa, western Illinois, and northern Missouri, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, a joint publication of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and USDA. Drought is also expected to persist or develop across the Southwest, western California, and parts of the western Corn Belt, including the western half of both Nebraska and Kansas, according to the outlook, released Oct. 17…”

Redefining The Meaning Of A “500 Year Flood”. Two historic floods in the span of 5 years? The NewsTribune explains why many residents living along the Illinois River are groping for better ways to explain the extremes of recent years; here’s a clip: “…Don’t use the term “500-year flood” in front of people in Utica. The Illinois River has overflowed twice in five years and residents think scientists need a better term to chart the occurrence of floods. But ask two-time survivors about bouncing back from the April flood and most will acknowledge that experience has been a good teacher.…”

Flood Insurance Surge Socks Residents. New York and New Jersey residents are still suffering through a hangover from Superstorm Sandy, which struck with an otherworldly fury on October 29, 2012. Reality is setting in, the form of radically higher flood insurance premiums, as the New York Post explains. Here’s an excerpt: “Hurricane Sandy is about to sock unwary homeowners again. A report commissioned by the city has found that 35 percent of the 68,000 buildings required to carry flood insurance in newly expanded federal flood zones don’t have it. The cost of that insurance could be astronomical — $5,000 to $10,000 a year. The premiums had been averaging $429 a year. Those shopping for new insurance will have to pay the full freight immediately…”

Photo credit above: “Christine Cina and her dog amid what is left of her house on Staten Island, a year after Sandy blew through.” Photo: Reuters.

U.S. Once Had Air Pollution To Match China’s Today. Jack Williams provides some timely perspective in this story at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. Here’s an excerpt: “During the 1940s and 1950s some parts of the United States experienced pollution episodes like those now occurring across parts of China. And even on good days the air wasn’t as clean as it generally is now.

Related: Chinese city shut down by off-the-charts pollution

One of the worst of these episodes, and one that helped focus attention on U.S. air pollution, was the choking, deadly smog that covered Donora, Pa., in the Monongahela River Valley, 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh from Oct. 27 to 31, 1948…”

Photo credit above: “On Oct. 30, 1948, Donora’s main business district was cloaked in smog, the sunlight virtually obliterated by thick low-hanging pollution.” (Associated Press).

This Could Have A Huge Impact. Talk about disruptive technology. If Aereo survives a challenge from broadcasters taking their case to the Supreme Court it could encourage NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX to become pureplay cable channels, potentially diminishing the value of local affiliates. I don’t think Congress will allow this to happen, since the networks receive (free/public domain) spectrum to air their channels for free. But it’s a fascinating struggle, as described in this clip from FTVLive: “…But Bloomberg reportsthat DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, taking a page from Aereo Inc., are considering capturing free broadcast-TV signals to avoid paying billions of dollars in so-called retransmission fees, said people with knowledge of the deliberations.Aereo, which charges $8 a month for online access to broadcast TV, is locked in a court battle with CBS Corp. (CBS) and other media companies over the legality of its service. If Aereo prevails, cable companies could use the same approach to bypass the fees they now pay for network signals, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are at an early stage…”

In Almost Every European Country Bikes Are Outselling New Cars. Talk about environmentally-friendly and low operating costs. NPR has the story – here’s a clip: “We know that Europeans love their bicycles — think or . Denmark specifically for cyclists. Indeed, earlier this month, , which has long had a love affair with cars, is embracing the bicycle: For the first time on record, Lauren noted, bicycles outsold cars in the country. But it’s becoming a Continent-wide phenomenon. More bikes were sold in than cars — for the first time since World War II...”


Climate Stories…

Climate Change Could Put $6 Trillion In Fossil Fuel Reserves At Risk. And here is the biggest reason there is so much organized, manufactured skepticism about climate change. “If we don’t acknowledge there’s a real problem we can keep on drilling, and mining, and fracking!” Here’s the intro to a story at Quartz: “The International Energy Agency last year warned that if humanity is to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change, a third of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must be put off limits until 2050. That prompted HSBC Global Research to estimate that some oil giants could lose up to half their market value. In other words, we’re talking about trillions of dollars in revenues going up in smoke if governments ever get their act together and issue a no-burn order.Now 70 investors that control $3 trillion in global assets want to know what 45 multinational oil, coal and mining companies intend to do about $6 trillion in potentially “stranded assets…”

Acidification Of Oceans Threatens To Change Entire Marine Ecosystem. The Vancouver Sun has the article; here’s the intro: “Ocean acidification due to excessive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is threatening to produce large-scale changes to the marine ecosystem affecting all levels of the food chain, a University of B.C. marine biologist warned Friday. Chris Harley, associate professor in the department of zoology, warned that ocean acidification also carries serious financial implications by making it more difficult for species such as oysters, clams, and sea urchins to build shells and skeletons from calcium carbonate. Acidic water is expected to result in thinner, slower-growing shells, and reduced abundance. Larvae can be especially vulnerable to acidity. “The aquaculture industry is deeply concerned,” Harley said. “They are trying to find out, basically, how they can avoid going out of business…”

Photo credit above: “Ocean acidification due to excessive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is threatening to produce large-scale changes to the marine ecosystem affecting all levels of the food chain, a University of B.C. marine biologist warned Friday.” Photograph by: Nick Didlick , VANCOUVER SUN.

Arctic Temperatures Reach Highest Levels In 44,000 Years, Study Finds. Here’s the intro to a LiveScience story at Huffington Post: “Plenty of studies have shown that the Arctic is warming and that the ice caps are melting, but how does it compare to the past, and how serious is it? New research shows that average summer temperatures in theCanadian Arctic over the last century are the highest in the last 44,000 years, and perhaps the highest in 120,000 years. “The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,” Gifford Miller, a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a joint statement from the school and the publisher of the journal Geophysical Researcher Letters, in which the study by Miller and his colleagues was published online this week…”

Climate Change Will Make Colorado’s Millenial Rainstorm A Lot More Common. Here’s an update from Quartz: “The rainfall that caused massive flooding in Colorado last month was a once-in-a-millennium event, according to a recent study (pdf). And climate change is making those kinds of extreme weather events more common. The impressively named Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center, a division of the National Weather Service, has concluded with greater than 90% certainty that the rainfall was millennial in nature. Here’s the chart for one rain gauge in Boulder, Colorado, that was inundated over seven days..”
Photo credit above: “Houses partially submerged last month in Longmont, Colorado.” AP/John Wark

Elon Musk: Oil Campaign Against Electric Cars Is Like Big Tobacco LobbyingThe Guardian has the story – here’s an excerpt: “Attacks on electric cars by the oil industry are on a par with misinformation campaigns promoted by big tobacco companies and vested interests undermining climate science, according to Elon Musk, the serial entrepreneur who founded PayPal and the brains behind both the space exploration company SpaceX and the electric sports carmaker Tesla Motors. The oil giants, he reckons, are attempting to sow the seeds of doubt. Speaking before the opening of Tesla’s new luxury store in the Westfield shopping mall in Shepherd’s Bush, London, last night, Musk told the Guardian: “It’s kinda like the battle against ‘big tobacco’ in the old days, and how they’d run all these ads about how tobacco’s no problem…”

Photo credit above: “Elon Musk in the new Tesla Model S high performance electric car in the showroom at Westfield London.” Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian.

Bad Climate Science In U.S. Schools: An Open Letter To Heartland and NIPCC. Those serial-misinformers and perpetual truth-twisters at The Heartland Institute are at it again. Now they’re going after teachers, trying to convince them that climate science isn’t “settled”, that “there are two sides to this important story”. Right. Here’s a clip of an open letter to Heartland and “NIPCC” at Small Epiphanies:

Open Letter — October 2013
To: Diane Carol Bast,  Executive Editor, The Heartland Institute
Re: Release of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science

Dear Mrs. Bast,
Thanks for sending out your helpful, if somewhat self-congratulatory, memo to so many US teachers (PDF). Its subject is important: the NIPCC’s gripping sequel “Climate Change Reconsidered II”, a title as original as the ‘Not the IPCC’ nomenclature is witty.

While I’m sure nobody would question your organisation’s motive in wanting to reach out to so many young and impressionable minds (and I’m sure very few will conflate this initiative with Heartland’s sturdy defence of the embattled tobacco industry during the 1990s) there are some minor issues that might demand attention….

Adversaries, Zombies And “NIPCC” Climate Psuedoscience. There’s a lot of (manufactured/sponsored) misinformation out there, as described in this post at Australia’s The Conversation; here’s a clip: “…IPCC reports openly discuss the strengths, weaknesses, criticisms and uncertainties of the science. The reports provide policy makers with a range of plausible outcomes given rising atmospheric CO2. Heartland’s NIPCC partially mimics the IPCC, but with key differences. It is written and reviewed by dozens of people, almost exclusively drawn from the “sceptic” community, and is consequently highly partisan. Indeed, the NIPCC advocates an adversarial approach to assessing climate science, with partisan “teams” arguing for different positions…”

Photo credit above: “Dead science lives on, thanks to the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change.” Scott Beale.



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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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