A Wet 2018 – Major Snow Potential Late Next Week

2018 was a warmer, wetter than average year for much of Minnesota. Mark Seeley reports 5 locations in southeast Minnesota reported 50 inches of precipitation or more in 2018. Caledonia saw 56.6 inches, a new all-time state record.

Worldwide, 2018 was the 4th warmest year ever observed. According to NOAA and NASA, the last five years have been the five warmest years in modern human history.

An Alberta Clipper drops a few inches of snow on far northern Minnesota this weekend; just a few lonely flurries in the MSP metro. No Christmas complications are brewing, with
daytime highs in the low 30s.

What may turn out to be one of the bigger snowfalls of the winter is brewing for next Thursday and Friday. Confidence levels are rising – this may be (very) plowable for much of Minnesota. Right now it looks like a heavy, wet snowfall. ECMWF prints out a foot of snow for parts of Minnesota late next week, which I’m not buying (yet) but wouldn’t it be great?

We cool off next weekend, but I see a Pacific wind flow returning by early January. No prolonged arctic flings in sight… yet. 

New Minnesota Annual Rainfall Record. Dr. Mark Seeley reports at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…At least 20 communities reported a one-day rainfall event of 5 inches or more. The wettest areas of the state in 2018 were the southern counties, where many climate stations reported the wettest year in their historical record. The driest area of the state encompassed the northwestern counties where some climate stations reported less than 20 inches for the year. There are at least five southeastern Minnesota climate stations that reported over 50 inches of precipitation this year, topped by 56.61 inches at Caledonia (Houston County) which is a new all-time statewide record, formerly held by Waseca, MN with 56.24 inches reported in 2016….”

Too Early to Panic (or Celebrate). It’s all interesting until someone gets hurt staring at weather models for an event that’s still 5-6 days away. That’s how people go blind. It’s still weather-porn this far out, but it’ll be vaguely interesting to see how the models adjust and shift from run to run, from NOAA’s models to ECMWF (above). If the European forecast verifies Minnesota snow lovers will be very happy by the end of next week. Map: WeatherBell.

Temperatures Bounce Back First Week of 2019? Any intrusion of cold air after next week’s storm may be relatively brief. 500mb winds looking out 2 weeks (GFS) suggest more of a mild, Pacific wind flow for much of the USA, with the possible exception of New England. Right now I don’t see any sustained arctic fronts for most of the nation – not yet.

“Worst Hailstorm in Sydney, Australia in 20 Years?” So says the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The Guardian has more details.

11 Separate Billion Dollar Weather & Climate Disasters in 2018. NOAA NCDC takes a look at the most destructive events of this year. At the top of the list, an estimated $38 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Florence: “Hurricane Florence was a large and very slow moving hurricane that produced extreme rainfall across eastern North Carolina (up to 35.93″) and South Carolina (up to 23.81″), as prodigious amounts of rainfall were common in many locations. Florence made landfall as a category 1, at Wrightsville Beach, NC with damaging storm surge up to 10 feet and wind gusts reported over 100 mph. However, the majority of the damage caused by Florence was due to the rainfall inland, which caused many rivers to surpass previous record flood heights. The total damage from Florence in North Carolina is expected to exceed that experienced during Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Floyd (1999)...”

September 12 Geocolor image of Hurricane Florence: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Why DARPA Funded a Farm Tech Startup. Makes perfect sense to me. Fortune Magazine explains: “…One of the things we’ve seen is that regional unrest has been linked to circumstances that seem detached from national security—like the price of bread,” says Joseph Evans, a program manager in DARPA’s strategic technology office. “If we can get more accurate tools to predict famine, we can head off these types of situations with humanitarian versus military intervention.” To that end, DARPA has awarded Descartes a grant of $1.5 million, which will be used to analyze, monitor, and forecast wheat crops across the Middle East and Africa, regions of the world which produce about 60 million tons of wheat collectively—resulting in petabytes of crop data…”

Image credit: “Composite, multi-year image of the Southeast region of the Nile Delta, showing a mix of rice fields as well as irrigation areas.” Descartes Labs.

Algorithmic Catastrophe: How News Feeds Reprogram Your Mind and Habits. Uh oh. A post at Big Think explains a lot: “…A filter bubble is your own personal universe of information that’s been generated by algorithms that are trying to guess what you’re interested in. And increasingly online we live in these bubbles. They follow us around. They form part of the fabric of most websites that we visit and I think we’re starting to see how they’re creating some challenges for democracy. We’ve always chosen media that conforms to our address and read newspapers or magazines that in some way reflect what we’re interested in and who we want to be. But the age of kind of the algorithmically mediated media is really different in a couple of ways. One way is it’s not something that we know that we’re choosing...”

The Shrinking Middle Class. Fortune Magazine has an exhaustively-researched 27 page story on the reality that the haves have more, the have-nots have consistently less: “…People also don’t like to think of themselves as poor, or even as working class. To the extent that the U.S. has a class consciousness, it tends to be around the middle class.” All of which creates a challenge of measurement. If sizing up the middle class is difficult enough, it’s that much harder to say that circumstances within this group have changed. And yet that is precisely what we’ve devoted the 28 pages in this special report to saying—and showing. Life has gotten harder in recent years for millions of people within the middle class. Put simply: For too many, the American dream has been fading...”

Apollo 8: NASA’s First Moonshot Was a Bold and Terrifying Improvisation. The Washington Post takes us back to 1968: “…Fifty years later, it’s hard to remember how mind-blowing Apollo 8 was, and how scary. No space mission had ever presented so many exotic ways to kill astronauts. Before the launch, a NASA official was overheard imagining what might go wrong: “Just how do we tell Susan Borman, ‘Frank is stranded in orbit around the moon’?” Apollo 8 was the first moonshot. No human being had ever been beyond low Earth orbit. Even the Apollo 8 astronauts — Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr. and Bill Anders — struggled to wrap their heads around what they were about to do…”

Apollo 8 file image: NASA.

8 hours and 46 minutes of daylight yesterday at MSP.

28 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

25 F. average high on December 21.

24 F. high on December 21, 2017.

December 22, 2000: A chilly day in Minnesota, with a high of zero degrees in Minneapolis, and a low of 14 below.

SATURDAY: Clouds, few flurries. Winds: W 5-10. High: 34

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, no travel problems. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 31

CHRISTMAS EVE: More clouds than sun. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 20. High: near 30

CHRISTMAS DAY: Quiet Christmas, clouds linger. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 19. High: 31

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, late night snow. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 22. High: 33

THURSDAY: Wet snow may be heavy at times. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 32

FRIDAY: Snow lingers, rough travel conditions? Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 26. High: 28

Climate Stories…

2018: 4th Warmest Year in Recorded History. Here’s an excerpt from Grist: “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported it’s more than 99 percent certain that 2018 will rank as the fourth warmest year on record. We’re in the middle of a string of rapid climate change that is without precedent in at least 11,000 years — around the time that our ancestors invented agriculture. Officially, 2018 will replace 2014 for fourth, meaning that the last five years have been the five warmest years in modern human history. Summertime temperatures during this recent hot streak have produced the warmest temperatures on our planet in about 120,000 years. The planet’s carbon dioxide concentration, which surpassed 410 parts per million for an entire month this year, is now higher than at any point in the past 15 million years…”

Parenting the Climate Change Generation. Food for thought in a post at Intelligencer: “…One climate writer I know has, in the last few years, taken his teenage children to see the Great Barrier Reef, which was once a natural wonder of the world, with the complexity of a great city, and which is now inarguably dying, and Glacier National Park, so named because it once held 150 glaciers; today all but 26 have melted. It’s a beautiful gesture, almost mythological — a parent giving a simultaneous tour of the past and the future to his children. But there are also those parents I know who wonder whether it would be better to spare their children memories like that, memories that will be carried forward for many decades as reminders of what has been lost — or, rather, destroyed…”

CLIMATE IMPACTS: Headlines and links via Climate Matters: “Risks of ‘domino effect’ of tipping points greater than thought, study says (The Guardian), winters are warming faster than summers–these US cities could lose weeks of freezing days by 2050 (Vox), as floods push homes higher, the disabled risk being pushed out (Bloomberg), deadly weather: the human cost of 2018’s climate disasters.” (The Guardian).

Jim Rogers, Head of a Coal-Burning Utility, Crusaded Against Global Warming. The Wall Street Journal has an unlikely obit; here’s an excerpt: “Jim Rogers liked to be known as an environmentalist leading a crusade against global warming. He also was the CEO of the electric-power utility Duke Energy Corp. , one of the nation’s largest coal burners. The apparent contradiction got him an interview on Stephen Colbert’s talk show in 2009. The comedian said he was confused by Mr. Rogers’s PR. “I’d love to call myself a vegetarian because I’m having broccoli with my veal,” Mr. Colbert said. “Is that the same deal?” Though Mr. Rogers laughed along with the jokes, he was earnest in his role as one of the most outspoken energy industry leaders on finding ways to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide—notably by transitioning to more use of nuclear, solar and wind power. Some environmentalists said he didn’t do enough to live up to his talk…”

Photo credit: Duke Energy.

Rising Waters are Drowning Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Bloomberg has the story: “By the middle of this century, climate change is likely to punch a hole through the busiest stretch of rail in North America. Parts of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor route, which carries 12 million people each year between Boston and Washington, face “continual inundation.” Flooding, rising seas, and storm surge threaten to erode the track bed and knock out the signals that direct train traffic. The poles that provide electricity for trains are at risk of collapse, even as power substations succumb to floodwaters. “If one of the segments of track shuts down, it will shut down this segment of the NEC,” warned members of Amtrak’s planning staff. “There is not an alternate route that can be used as a detour.” That was the conclusion of a three-volume, multi-year climate study undertaken with first Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. and then Stantec Inc...”


The Invading Sea. Can South Florida Be Saved. Here’s an excerpt of a post at theinvadingsea.com, from friend and colleague, John Morales, Chief Meteorologist at the NBC affiliate in Miami: “…Here in Florida, the threat is among the most severe in the U.S. We’ve seen the devastating impacts of major hurricanes. We can expect more. On our coasts and inland waterways, harmful blooms of blue-green algae and the red tide have suffocated marine life and strangled tourism and local economies. Climate change has likely made those situations even worse. Entire ecosystems, such as the Everglades, are threatened. Risks of sea-level rise are starting to impact real estate prices across Miami, putting pressure on coastal property prices, and leading to what some call “climate gentrification.” Construction workers and farmers are increasingly at risk of overexposure to heat, chancing hospitalizations and even fatalities. I could go on…”