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Premature Winter Slap: Accumulating Snow Brewing for Dakotas (will Tropical Storm Karen form in the Gulf?)

The biggest storm in 5 months will spin up, pushing two surges of rain across Minnesota. The first wave of rain arrives Thursday, a second soaking possible Friday afternoon into midday Saturday. Some 1-2 inch amounts are possible, especially north & west of MSP. Cold exhaust follows the storm, temperatures aloft ALMOST cold enough for a few stray flurries close to home Sunday evening.


Payback for a September 5.2F warmer than average? Perhaps. Don’t despair, more 60s are brewing by mid-October.

1.29″ rain predicted for the Twin Cities by Saturday morning (NAM model).

Last Lukewarm Day. NAM model data shows another day with highs well up into the 70s over much of central and southern Minnesota, while holding in the 50s over the Red River Valley. A 30-degree temperature extreme will help to spin up a major storm by Thursday. Map above valid 4 PM courtesy of Ham Weather.

Serious Reality Check. It’s still early; my trust in the models is lower than usual, but the 12km NAM is suggesting a p-p-plowable snowfall for portions of the central and eastern Dakotas Friday and Saturday with winds topping 40 mph. Near-blizzard conditions can’t be ruled out late in the week. Lovely! Model map: Ham Weather.

Tug-Of-War. A fresh surge of chilly, Canadian air will cause the jet stream winds aloft to buckle, pulling moisture from the Gulf of Mexico north, a sharp gradient in temperature whipping up an intense storm capable of significant rain from the Dakotas to the Great Lakes tonight into Friday. NAM model data courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Strongest Midwestern Storm In 5 Months? Ingredients are converging for a significant rain event, possibly enough moisture to put a sizable dent in our drought. GFS model animation above shows predicted 10 meter wind speeds and pressure. Note the appearance of a storm in the Gulf of Mexico, a depression that may strengthen into Tropical Storm Karen in the days ahead. Animation: Ham Weather.

Another Mild Front, And First Frost? GFS data shows a potential for 60-degree highs the weekend after next (October 12-13), followed by a cold front that may lead to the first metro frost of the season, coming about 2 weeks from today. Circle your calendar.

Tropical Storm Karen? Many of the models we study are strengthening a tropical disturbance (“Invest 97”) east of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and I believe there’s a 40-50% chance it will become Tropical Storm Karen within 2-3 days. I don’t expect a full-blown hurricane right now, but a tropical storm could pose a risk of moderate storm surge flooding and very heavy inland river/urban flooding. The risk appears to be highest between New Orleans and Pensacola, centered on Mobile, but that will almost certainly change in the days ahead. The flood risk would extend from Mobile and the Florida Panhandle into Georgia, possibly the higher terrain of the Appalachians as the storm accelerates northeast. I see no evidence that it will stall right now, which would prolong/height the inland flooding risk.

* but the European (ECMWF) model isn’t picking up on this system strengthening in the Gulf, at least not yet, so I’m discounting this solution a bit (for now).

Early Track Predictions. The models are in fairly good alignment, but we’ve been burned before this season. Too early to press the panic button, but mild paranoia is called for.

HWRF Solution. Parts of NOAA are shut down as part of the government closure, thank GOD the models are still working. NOAA’s most reliable/powerful model brings “Karen?” to near Mobile or Pensacola in 4-5 days, with a possible landfall Sunday or early Monday. It’s still too early to get more specific than that.

As Peak Storm Season Fades, Gulf Becomes Target. I don’t see any short-term tropical threats, and October will (probably) mirror the entire hurricane season, trending much lower than average in the Atlantic and Caribbean. But the threat isn’t zero, not yet, especially over the Gulf Coast and Florida. Here’s an excerpt from “…A variety of factors have contributed to the dry atmosphere, he said, including a drought in Brazil, “super dry” air blowing off Africa from the Saharan dessert, and a global weather pattern that is currently generating downdrafts of dry, sinking air over the tropical Atlantic. “Tropical storms like to have updrafts to sustain them and if you have downdrafts you’re squashing tropical storm activity,” Masters said, adding that “the odds are less than usual that we’ll see tropical storm activity” in October…” (Image above: NASA).

Why Scientists Were Wrong About This Year’s Hurricane Season. Here’s a segment of a very good explanation of why the Atlantic has been eerily quiet in recent months, courtesy of National Geographic: “An infusion of very dry air over the Atlantic Ocean has kept the 2013 hurricane season from being the stormy summer that forecasters expected it to be in June. “A lot of people are scratching their heads right now,” said Keith Blackwell, professor of meteorology at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. “Everybody was wrong in their long-range predictions.” A high-pressure system known as the Azores-Bermuda High that often parks over the Atlantic Ocean during the summer is the reason so much dry air has moved over the Atlantic, scientists say. The Azores-Bermuda High often has a significant influence on the direction tropical storms take as they move northward…”
Photo credit above: “Villagers cross a collapsed bridge near Acapulco which was the hardest hit following the heavy rains unleashed by Hurricane Manuel last week.” Photograph by Henry Romero, Reuters

Reporter’s Notebook: Witnessing Colorado Flood Damage. Video and photos can’t do an historic flood (or any other natural disaster) justice. The magnitude doesn’t sink in until you’re physically on the scene. This article at does a good job of capturing the scope of the recent Colorado floods; here’s an excerpt: “Let’s go to Glen Haven,” the police car’s loudspeaker barked, and the Colorado state trooper whipped a U-turn and headed down into the flood zone. He would be my escort Tuesday into the tiny flood-ravaged town deep in the Larimer County mountains, where the only road in, down Devil’s Gulch, was already collapsing into the river. That metallic command was the final step in a process that started Monday with negotiations with public officials about the importance of an independent witness seeing firsthand the destruction caused by devastating floods that rolled downstream on a wave of historic rainfall. Across the state, the floods killed at least eight people and damaged or destroyed as many as 2,000 homes. It also washed out hundreds of miles of roads and left many small mountain towns completely cut off — the towns I was headed to see…”

Photo credit above: “Reporter Trevor Hughes too this photo from Estes Park, Colo., on Sept. 24. “Beauty amidst devastation in Colorado,” he wrote.” / Trevor Hughes.

Boulder Storm Summit: Questions Linger Among Experts. It’s still early, but whether it was a 1-in-100 year or 1-in-1,000 year flood becomes academic if your home was swept away by floodwaters. Here’s an excerpt from The Boulder Daily Camera: “…Russ Schumacher, an associate professor in atmospheric science at Colorado State University, analyzed the 2013 storm through the lens of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Atlas 14 precipitation frequency estimates. He concluded that Boulder’s rainfall — distinct from the flooding — was actually a one-in-1,000-year event. But Klaus Wolter, a CIRES research scientist who works in NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory — and lives just three miles above Jamestown, which was devastated by the flood — took issue with that. “I think a thousand-year event is pushing the envelope too far,” Wolter said…”

File photo credit above: “In this Sept. 14, 2013, file photo, a portion of Lefthand Canyon Road near the intersection of Olde Stage Road in Boulder, Colo., is destroyed by floodwaters. Colorado transportation officials are scrambling to replace key mountain highways with at least gravel before the first winter storms hit as early as October, but rebuilding every flood-damaged road and bridge in the mountains and plains will have to wait until 2014 or beyond.” (AP Photo/Daily Camera, Jeremy Papasso, File).

After Floods, Should Colorado Rebuild Or “Redo”? Salon takes a look at an important question: in high risk areas, even areas that are (newly) high risk, does it pay to keep rebuilding? Here’s a clip: “The floodwaters have largely receded, and the lists of unaccounted for people have dwindled. In their wake, they’ve left hundreds of miles of destroyed highway, dozens of washed-away bridges, and thousands of demolished and damaged homes. The rebuilding process that Colorado faces now is a daunting, hugely expensive task that will ultimately take years. It is also, say many disaster experts, an opportunity – a chance to rebuild some things better than they were before, with an eye toward withstanding future flooding. “The silver lining with events like this is you do have the opportunity to redo things differently – the layout of roads, the layout of towns,” says Michael Gooseff, a professor of hydroecologic science and engineering at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. “Mother Nature has reset the playing field for us...”

File photo above: “In this Sept. 13, 2013 file photo, water rushes through her destroyed home as resident Holly Robb, left, and her neighbor Pam Bowers salvage belongings after storms that raged through the Rocky Mountain foothills in this photo made in Lyons, Colo. Two low-lying trailer parks in the small town, 20 minutes to the north of Boulder, bore the brunt of the recent flooding. “I don’t think we’ll ever be able to go back,” said Robb.” (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)(Credit: AP).

Sandy Changed Attitudes – For Better And WorseNBC Philadelphia gauges the physical, long-term impacts of Sandy on the Jersey Shore, and changes in psychology related to the aftermath of Sandy; here’s a clip: “…In other post-Sandy research, a Rutgers psychologist’s studies seem to show that Sandy may have made some younger voters more likely to vote for a politician running on a “green” platform — even if it could mean tax increases. Further, the research showed that one positive effect of Sandy may have been in convincing formerly skeptical people that climate change is a man-made phenomenon. Laurie Rudman’s research, published in the journal Psychological Science, is based on two rounds of surveys she did among Rutgers undergraduate students, in 2010 and just after Hurrican Sandy last fall…”

Photo credit above: “NJ National Guard, via Rutgers. “Sandy devastated Mantaloking, shown in this file photo, and has changed some attitudes about the Shore.”

The Problem With Death TollsSlate has an interesting story on how using deaths resulting from natural disasters, however tragic, can miss the bigger picture and implications. Here’s a clip: “…The quake is a grim reminder that while reporting on disasters like these is often dominated by death tolls, which are used as a kind of shorthand to diagnose the severity of an event. Putting aside the inherent problems involved with calculating death tolls and the geographical biases involved in disaster coverage, the number of dead can be a misleading way to think about the scale of a disaster like this one, particularly when it comes to decisions about funding for relief efforts. In a crowded international news environment, we may decide which disasters to pay attention to based on how many people were killed, but that’s not the best way to decide how much help is needed…”

Image credit: May, 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado aerial image, before and after. Courtesy: ESRI.

Low-Cost Blooming Bamboo Home Built To Withstand Floods. This will become a trend in the USA in the coming years – homes and office buildings that are more resilient and wind/flood resistant. Here’s an excerpt from Gizmag: “Vietnamese architectural firm H&P Architects has produced a new prototype dwelling constructed from bamboo. Dubbed Blooming Bamboo, the house is built to withstand heavy flooding, and is eventually intended to be mass-produced and sold as an affordable and attractive home…”

Image credit above: “The Blooming Bamboo home, by Vietnamese architectural firm H&P Architects.” (Photo: Doan Thanh Ha).

Covering Tragedy Taking A Toll On Journalists. No, I have yet to meet a no-emotion, Spock-like reporter who doesn’t feel the full impact of what they’re covering. Here’s a clip from TVNewsCheck: “The issues journalists confront in covering traumatic events — whether they are epic events like 9/11 and the recent rash of mass shootings, or the “slow drip” that crime reporters experience —are a growing problem. The increase is due to both changes in the news business and because there are simply so many more of them. In response, organizations like Columbia University’s Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma have programs to help…”

Photo credit: Ron Johnson, Journal Star.

One In Eight People Around The World Go Hungry, Says U.N. ReportThe New York Times has the sobering details – here’s an excerpt: “One in eight people around the world is chronically undernourished, the United Nations’ food agencies said on Tuesday, warning world leaders that some regions would fail in halving the number of hungry by 2015. In their latest report on food insecurity, the U.N. agencies estimated that 842 million people were suffering chronic hunger in 2011-13, or 12 percent of the world’s population, down 17 percent from 1990-92…”

Fast Food Drive-Thrus Are Getting Slower. Forget about the government shut-down, this is SERIOUS news! USA Today has the story; here’s a clip: “As if the fast-food industry doesn’t have enough headaches, now it’s got a new one: It’s getting too slow. Never mind that its first name is “fast.” The amount of time that consumers are spending waiting in lines at fast-food drive-thru windows is getting longer, not shorter, mostly due to the growing complexity of new products that the major fast-food chains are selling. This, according to 2013 Drive-Thru Performance Study conducted for QSR Magazine, a fast-food industry trade publication. The study, to be released today, also says that industry giant McDonald’s posted its slowest-ever drive-thru time in the 15-year history of the drive-thru study — requiring an average 189.5 seconds for the typical drive-thru customer to go from order to pickup. That’s roughly nine seconds longer than the industry average, reports the study conducted this summer by Insula Research…”

“Breaking Bad”: Vince Gilligan Shares 5 Alternative Endings. The Wrap has the story – thanks to my Navy son (Brett) and Netflix for sucking me into the Walter White Vortex. Here’s a clip: ”

No. 1: Walter White goes Rambo

The writers of “Breaking Bad” gave Walter White his M60 before they knew who it would kill. Vince Gilligan says in the final “Breaking Bad Insider” podcast that he and his team had no idea, when they gave Walt the machine gun at the start of the final season, that he would eventually motorize it mow down Neo Nazis. They didn’t even know the show would have Neo Nazis…”

8 Gnarly Photos From Surf City’s Surf Dog Competition. The government is shut down, but we still have cool dog-surfing photos! This could only happen in California – kudo to and Lucy Nicholson at Reuters for making us all smile.


 Climate Stories….

IPCC Model Global Warming Projections Have Done Much Better Than You Think.The Guardian has the article; here’s a snippet: “…Since 1990, global surface temperatures have warmed at a rate of about 0.15°C per decade, within the range of model projections of about 0.10 to 0.35°C per decade. As the IPCC notes,

“global climate models generally simulate global temperatures that compare well with observations over climate timescales … The 1990–2012 data have been shown to be consistent with the [1990 IPCC report] projections, and not consistent with zero trend from 1990 … the trend in globally-averaged surface temperatures falls within the range of the previous IPCC projections.”

Graphic credit above: “IPCC AR5 Figure 1.4. Solid lines and squares represent measured average global surface temperature changes by NASA (blue), NOAA (yellow), and the UK Hadley Centre (green). The colored shading shows the projected range of surface warming in the IPCC First Assessment Report (FAR; yellow), Second (SAR; green), Third (TAR; blue), and Fourth (AR4; red).”

The Deep Greenland Sea Is Warming Faster Than The World Ocean. Science Dailyhas the story; here’s the introduction: “Recent warming of the Greenland Sea Deep Water is about ten times higher than warming rates estimated for the global ocean. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research recently published these findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. For their study, they analysed temperature data from 1950 to 2010 in the abyssal Greenland Sea, which is an ocean area located just to the south of the Arctic Ocean…”

Graphic credit above: “Increase of water temperature in the deep Greenland Sea. Mean temperature (°C) from 2000 m to the bottom in the central Greenland Sea (74-76°N, 0-6°W) from 1950 to 2009 (red line). The shading shows the range of temperature from 2000 m (warmer limit) to the bottom (colder limit). (Credit: Alfred-Wegener-Institut).”

NOAA Scientists Looking At Link Between Climate Change And FloodingCBS Denver has the story and video – here’s an excerpt: “A United Nation’s panel on climate change says the changes can be blamed on human activity. Top scientists from around the world say people are mostly to blame for rising temperatures since 1951. Some of the best weather and climate scientists in the world are based at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder. It’s ironic and convenient they are located in Boulder where the flood did some of its worst damage. They are analyzing all the data to determine whether this is truly the 100-year flood or brought on by climate change…”

IPCC Report: Canada At Greater Risk Of From Climate Change. The impacts are already greater at northern latitudes, from Alaska and Canada to Scandanavia and Siberia. Canada is warming at twice the global average. Here’s an excerpt of a comprehensive story from The Toronto Star: “Stronger storms forecast for Atlantic Canada and Ontario, while Great Lakes warming could be 50-per-cent higher than global predictions. Canada will continue to see more warming than the global average and extreme weather events will be more frequent and more intense, says a full report by a group of the world’s top climate scientists. There will be stronger hurricanes, longer heat waves and, in some parts of the country, more snow and more hail, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which released a 2,216-page assessment on global warming’s regional impact…”

Photo credit above: ANDY CLARK / REUTERS FILE PHOTO. “There is debate over whether this year’s devastating floods in Calgary, above, and Ontario were due to climate change, but one expert says “we will see more of those kind of events” as Canada experiences more precipitation and a faster spring melt.”

World’s Carbon Budget To Be Spent In 3 DecadesWRI Insights has the story – here’s the introduction: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) has delivered an overwhelming consensus that climate change impacts are accelerating, fueld by human-caused emissions. We may have just about 30 years left until the world’s carbon budget is spent if we want a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C. Breaching this limit would put the world at increased risk of forest fires, coral bleaching, higher sea level rise, and other dangerous impacts…”

Climate Economists Deftly Tackle Their Second-Hardest QuestionBloomberg has the story – here’s a clip: “Among economists, “What’s the future worth?” has been one of the most chewed over questions since the U.K. released a major assessment of the costs of climate change in 2006. There are plenty of answers that the question brings up in ordinary life, from the emotional (“Every bit as much as the present!”) to the practical (“How will answering this question help my re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives?”) In the world of climate change, though, it’s a hard numbers question: how much should we spend now to head off climate disaster in the future? It depends on how much you think the value of money will change over large spans of time. Economists talk about the value of the future in terms of a “discount rate”: how much we value a dollar’s worth of goods or resources X years in the future compared to today…” (Image: Shutterstock).


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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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