Soaking Rain Puts Another Dent in the Drought

”Where’s the snow, Paul? This is Minnesota, not Arkansas!” Snow lovers are frustrated, some more vocal than others. Record summer heat is spilling over into an lukewarm autumn. The MSP metro has experienced only one night below freezing so far, which is unusual for late October.

Reading the tea leaves (and cue cards) Winter Is Coming, however late. In recent years I’ve noticed that many winters trend milder overall, interrupted by belated (concentrated) polar punches that make news. Dipping below zero is now a big deal, a far cry from the 70s when we often spent weeks below zero, with air temperatures as cold as 20-40 below.

The big story is rain; models hinting at .5-2 inches by Thursday night as Minnesota’s drought continues to ease.

Skies clear Friday with a shot at 60F Saturday, before we cool into the 40s next week – a few degrees below average for a change.

No blizzards for Halloween this year, just a dry sky and 40s. Looks like I’ll be tracking ghosts and goblins on the old Doppler unit this year.

Twin Cities National Weather Service

ECMWF Rainfall by Friday AM

Heaviest Rain Bands to Set Up West of MSP. The European model continues to show a sharp rainfall gradient over the Twin Cities: more west, considerably less rain forecast east of St. Paul into western Wisconsin. ECMWF has been fairly consistent with this solution – we’ll see.

Brian Brettschneider

Low Odds of a White Halloween. Looking at the data only a 1-5% for the Twin Cities, St. Cloud and Rochester, but 10-25% of Halloweens have had an inch or more of snow on the ground October 31. This won’t be one of them.

Wednesday Future Clouds/Precipitation

Another Good Soaking. Some spots may only pick up a half inch of rain into Thursday night (best chance of less rain east of St. Paul) but some counties in central and western Minnesota should see well over an inch of rain from this slow-moving system.

Best Leaf-Raking Day: Saturday. Although a kid’s Halloween parade sounds better, come to think of it. Raking can wait, because the mercury may come close to 60F in the metro before cooling off on Halloween, with a streak of 40s predicted next week.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

Mixed Signals. Confidence levels in the GFS 500mb position and strength are low; consecutive model runs have been contradictory. Yesterday’s solution looked milder – the latest solution shows seasonably chilly air spilling into the second week of November.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Longer, More Frequent Outages Afflict the U.S. Power Grid as States Fail to Prepare for Climate Change. The Washington Post (paywall) reports; here’s an excerpt: “…As storms grow fiercer and more frequent, environmental groups are pushing states to completely reimagine the electrical grid, incorporating more batteries, renewable energy sources and localized systems known as “microgrids,” which they say could reduce the incidence of wide-scale outages. Utility companies have proposed their own storm-proofing measures, including burying power lines underground. But state regulators largely have rejected these ideas, citing pressure to keep energy rates affordable. Of $15.7 billion in grid improvements under consideration last year, regulators approved only $3.4 billion, according to a national survey by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center — about one-fifth…”

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NOAA Ocean Today

Changing Ocean Currents are Driving Extreme Weather. ScienceDaily has details on new research: “Throughout Earth’s oceans runs a conveyor belt of water. Its churning is powered by differences in the water’s temperature and saltiness, and weather patterns around the world are regulated by its activity. A pair of researchers studied the Atlantic portion of this worldwide conveyor belt called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, and found that winter weather in the United States critically depends on this conveyor belt-like system. As the AMOC slows because of climate change, the U.S. will experience more extreme cold winter weather. The study, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment was led by Jianjun Yin, an associate professor in the University of Arizona Department of Geosciences and co-authored by Ming Zhao, a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory…”

The new Fox Weather studio in New York.
Photographer: Zack DeZon/Bloomberg

FOX Weather is Stockpiling Meteorologists and Taking On The Weather Channel. Bloomberg reports: “Amid all the droughts, forest fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes that have battered America this year, Rupert Murdoch sees an opportunity to make it rain. On Oct. 25, Murdoch’s media empire will launch Fox Weather, a new 24-hour streaming service, aiming to take on meteorological incumbents like the Weather Channel and capitalize on the increasingly frightening state of Earth’s daily forecasts. As weather events grow more intense, Fox Corp. executives are betting that consumers are hungry for more than just an iPhone app that tells them the temperature and whether they should be carrying an umbrella. We’re looking to make weather more than just this utility,” said Sharri Berg, president of Fox Weather…”

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24.

“Atmospheric River” Swings Northern California from Drought to Flood. Like flipping on a light switch, according to a post at “A series of powerful “atmospheric river” storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest. The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It’s triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides. The storm system claimed the lives of two people in Washington state after a tree fell on a vehicle amid powerful winds Sunday. The storm is associated with a record-strong “bomb cyclone” off the Pacific Northwest, which was forecast to remain at sea. But it’s bringing wind gusts of up to 60-70 mph and greater than 40-foot waves off the coasts of northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia…”

Paul Douglas

If Clouds Are Made of Water, How Do They Stay in the Air? (paywall) has a wonky post filled with wonderful math that explains what’s really happening; here is a clip: “…So, imagine a wind blowing a tiny drop of water upward at a speed of 1.5 m/s. The upward-pushing air resistance can have the same magnitude as the downward gravitational force. The drop will have zero velocity and zero net force. It will just stay there. So this is what is happening with the clouds: The water droplets are small enough that the upward-pushing force of the air can keep them suspended aloft. But it can’t keep them at the same altitude forever. Any droplet with a large enough radius will eventually get overwhelmed by the downward pull of gravity. Basic physics shows that clouds don’t have to float—they fall, but they fall really slowly…”

Bryce Jones, head of Flash Forest, says drones are “an incredibly practical tool to do things we could never do otherwise.”
Flash Forest

A Few Idealistic Canadians Are Trying to Replant the World’s Forests with Flying Machines. A clever use of drone technology, as outlined at The Washington Post (paywall): “…While many think of drones as a toy or, worse, a lethally precise military tool, Flash Forest has gone the other way: It’s deploying drones to nourish life. The 20-person Toronto company is using a fleet of unmanned vehicles to plant (more accurately, carpet-bomb) the landscape with tree seeds and replenish those majestic carbon guzzlers. The battle against climate change can be waged with sober policy making, an engaged citizenry and corporate responsibility. It can also be fought, it turns out, by a few hipster millennials with flying machines. “Drones have been featured in science fiction for so long, I understand why people don’t always think of them in terms of solving our problems,” Jones said. “But they’re an incredibly practical tool to do things we could never do otherwise...”

Hertz to Buy 100,000 Electric Vehicles from Tesla. Axios has details: “Car rental company Hertz announced Monday it will purchase 100,000 Tesla Model 3s by the end of 2o22 and install thousands of chargers across the United States as part of the company’s turn toward electric vehicles. It’s a major purchase for Hertz, which filed for bankruptcy last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and a major sale for Tesla, coming just after it reported its highest-ever quarterly profit despite global supply chain problems. Hertz also said it will be partnering with seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady to promote its shift toward EVs…”

Kelley Blue Book, Paul Horn, Inside Climate News

Inside Clean Energy: Electric Vehicles Are Having a Banner Year. Here Are the Numbers. Inside Climate News reports: “Electric vehicle sales have made a leap this year in the United States. From January to September, U.S. consumers bought 305,324 all-electric vehicles, an increase of 83 percent from the same period in 2020, according to Kelley Blue Book. With this bump in sales, all-electric vehicles are now 2.6 percent of all new light duty cars and trucks sold in the country, up from 1.6 percent at this time last year. Those are huge gains. But when I spoke with auto analysts this week, they said 2021 is only an appetizer for what is coming in 2022. The increase in sales this year came despite major challenges, including a short-term shortage of computer chips that has led to production delays, and long-term regional differences that mean the EV market barely exists in much of the country...”

Paul Douglas

The Coming Electric Car Disruption That Nobody’s Talking About. The only predictable thing is change, as highlighted in a post at Yahoo! News; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…Making the massive batteries that line the bottom of electric cars promises to employ thousands. But where a conventional car’s engine and transmission have hundreds of parts, some electric-vehicle powertrains have as few as 17, according to the Congressional Research Service. That doesn’t take into account the radiators, fuel tanks or exhaust systems that electric vehicles don’t need. Once operating, an electric car has no spark plugs or oil that need changing or mufflers that wear out. And with so few moving parts, service stations could be relegated to changing tires and windshield wipers. Conventional cars will probably remain on the road for years, softening the blow for repair shops and other affiliated industries. But with an average lifespan of 12 years, the trend lines for gasoline-powered vehicles will be heading down…”

How Working from Home Could Change Where Innovation Happens. A post at Wall Street Journal (paywall) caught my eye: “…Some researchers and industry experts see the trend as a sign of profound change, at least in the tech industry, which traditionally has been one of the most geographically concentrated fields. Many people are moving outside of the usual industry hubs, and they aren’t coming back. This shift has profound implications for where and how innovation will happen. Tech-company engineers and other professionals moving farther from the office could bring tech expertise to places that have long sought to add it. And big companies in coastal hubs now have the ability to tap into talent pools farther afield…”

Mental Floss

“My Poor Ass”: Michelangelo Wrote a Poem About How Much He Hated Painting the Sistine Chapel. I had no idea, but a post at Mental Floss has the details: “…Michelangelo had come into renown as a sculptor and considered painting the 12,000 square feet of the ceiling beyond his capabilities. He was wrong, of course, but the artistic anxiety caused him considerable distress. He even made sure the first portion of the ceiling, The Flood, was tucked away and largely out of sight in case he messed it up. He famously worked 65 feet in the air on custom scaffolding, and after four years of effort from 1508 to 1512, the physical toil of craning his neck upward was apparent. (He did not, as is sometimes thought, paint while lying down.) To relieve some of the emotional tension, Michelangelo took to poetry…”

57 F. Twin Cities high on Tuesday.

53 F. average MSP high on October 26.

32 F. MSP high on October 26, 2020.

October 27, 1943: Residents would describe this event as ‘one of the worst fogs in the Twin Cities in memory’. A very dense area of fog blanketed the area. In the thickest fog, street lights could not be seen 25 yards away. Drivers refused to cross unmarked railroad crossings and traffic was brought to a standstill.

October 27, 1931: An intense area of low pressure moves into the Duluth area. The barometer falls to 29.02 inches.

WEDNESDAY: Rain, few T-storms possible. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 50

THURSDAY: Rain may be heavy at times. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 45. High: 49

FRIDAY: Slow clearing. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 55

SATURDAY: Sunny and mild. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 38. High: 60

HALLOWEEN: Mostly cloudy, cool breeze. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 40. High: 47

MONDAY: More clouds than sun, brisk. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 33. High: 45

TUESDAY: Intervals of chilled sunshine. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 31. High: 43

Climate Stories…

Seth Wynes and Kimberly Nicholas, Environmental Research Letters

Majority in US Concerned About Climate: AP-NORC/EPIC Poll. Associated Press has details: “President Joe Biden heads to a vital U.N. climate summit at a time when a majority of Americans regard the deteriorating climate as a problem of high importance to them, an increase from just a few years ago. About 6 out of 10 Americans also believe that the pace of global warming is speeding up, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. As Biden struggles to pass significant climate legislation at home ahead of next week’s U.N. climate summit, the new AP-NORC/EPIC poll also shows that 55% of Americans want Congress to pass a bill to ensure that more of the nation’s electricity comes from clean energy and less from climate-damaging coal and natural gas…”

Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock.
Martin Simon | CNBC

Blackrock CEO Larry Fink: Next 1,000 Unicorns Will Be in Climate Tech. Here’s an excerpt of a post at “Larry Fink, the CEO and Chairman of Blackrock, sees addressing climate change as a massive potential for new businesses. “It is my belief that the next 1,000 unicorns — companies that have a market valuation over a billion dollars — won’t be a search engine, won’t be a media company, they’ll be businesses developing green hydrogen, green agriculture, green steel and green cement,” Fink said Monday at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Climate change is a business opportunity, Fink said, because addressing it will require that virtually every segment of industry will have to be reinvented...”

A U.S. dollar banknote is pictured through broken glass in this illustration taken June 25, 2021.
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

“Shameful” Failure to Meet Climate Finance Goal Threatens COP26. What’s that old expression? “All hat – no cattle” seems to sum up the current state of global attempts to rein in emissions. Here’s an excerpt from Thomson Reuters Foundation: “Wealthy nations that promised climate finance for vulnerable countries conceded on Monday that an annual $100-billion goal, due to be met from 2020, will not be reached until 2023, which campaigners warned could thwart progress at upcoming U.N. talks. Alok Sharma, the senior British official who will preside over the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow starting on Sunday, said a delivery plan – put together by Germany and Canada – aimed to “restore trust” between richer and poorer governments. But he admitted the failure to meet the 2020 deadline for raising the yearly sum – which wealthy governments committed to back in 2009 – was “a source of deep frustration” among developing countries, though some welcomed the plan…”

Total Accused of Campaign to Play Down Climate Risk From Fossil Fuels. Here’s the intro to a story at Inside Climate News: “The French oil and gas giant TotalEnergies was aware of the link between fossil fuels and rising global temperatures 50 years ago but worked with other oil majors to play down the risks for at least three decades, according to internal company documents and interviews with former executives. The research, published on Wednesday by three historians in the peer-reviewed Global Environmental Change journal, outlines alleged efforts by the French energy group to cast doubt over emerging climate science in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, while pushing back against emissions reduction and climate-related taxes…”

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‘Way Off Track’ — Atmospheric GHG Levels Rose At Above Average Rate Even During Pandemic Slowdown: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gasses hit a new record high last year and rose faster than the 10-year annual average despite temporary slowdowns induced by the coronavirus pandemic, a report from the UN WMO detailed Monday. The stark World Meteorological Organization ‘Greenhouse Gas Bulletin’ report, coming just days before world leaders meet at the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow, said CO2 levels hit 413.2 ppm, and levels of even more potent methane and nitrous oxide also rose. “At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 C above preindustrial levels,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We are way off track.” (AP, NPR, Washington Post $, Reuters, CBS, Axios, The Hill, The Guardian, Reuters, Axios, ABC)


Climate Change: Greenhouse Gas Build-up Reached a New High in 2020. And that was during a global pandemic with less driving and flying than in 2019. BBC News has details: “The build-up of warming gases in the atmosphere rose to record levels in 2020 despite the pandemic, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The amounts of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide rose by more than the annual average in the past 10 years. The WMO says this will drive up temperatures in excess of the goals of the Paris agreement. They worry that our warmer world is, in turn, boosting emissions from natural sources…”

Climate Change is a Serious Threat to America’s Financial System. Mother Jones and Huffpost explain why concern is rising: “Climate change could bombard the US financial system on many fronts, and the nation’s growing dependence on natural gas for heating and electricity requires particular scrutiny as regulators scramble to catch up on the threat. That’s the conclusion of a landmark report from the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the federal entity established after the Great Recession to guard against future economic disasters. It marks the first time the council has deemed climate change an “emerging threat” to the US economy since the council was created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms of 2010. “Are we behind? Of course we are,” a senior administration official on the council, who declined to be named on the record, said on a press call. “This is the starting gun going off for the US financial regulatory system...”

Redfin Survey Results

Nearly Half of Americans Who Plan to Move Say Natural Disasters, Extreme Temperatures, Factored Into Their Decisions to Relocate: Survey. Interesting findings from “Many Americans are factoring climate change into their decisions about where to live, according to a new Redfin survey. About half of respondents who plan to move in the next year said extreme temperatures and/or the increasing frequency or intensity of natural disasters played a role in their decision to relocate. More than a third (36%) said rising sea levels were a factor. Redfin commissioned a general-population survey of 2,000 U.S. residents from Feb. 25, 2021 to March 1, 2021 to learn how Americans are thinking about climate change. The first section of this report focuses on the 628 respondents who indicated that they plan to move in the next 12 months...”

Net-Zero Proclamations From The Persian Gulf: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, says it will eliminate climate pollution, domestically, by 2060. The plan on relies heavily unproven carbon capture and sequestration technology, not on the reduction of fossil fuel use. The announcement made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who approved the murder and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, does not apply to pollution caused by the overseas combustion of oil and gas extracted in Saudi Arabia and exported, which accounts for approximately 10% of all global oil consumption. The CEO of Saudi Aramco said on Saturday the company is seeking to reach net-zero emissions from its operations, though not its product, by 2050. The state news agency of Bahrain also reported Sunday that country aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions in 2060.” (Saudi Arabia: Washington Post $, Bloomberg $, The Hill, FT $, Axios, Reuters; Saudi Aramco: Reuters; Bahrain: Reuters)

Fossil Fuel Execs to Testify at “Landmark” Hearing Focused on Climate Disinformation. More perspective from Axios: “The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced on Friday it will hold a “landmark” hearing next week with fossil fuel executives focused on the industry’s role in spreading climate disinformation. This is the first time oil company CEOs, and the head of their main trade group, will testify under oath about their knowledge of the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change, per Axios’ Andrew Freedman. The hearing will take place on October 28th and top executives from ExxonMobil, BP America, Chevron, and Shell Oil are slated to appear, as are trade group execs from the American Petroleum Institute and President and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce…”

New York Times Graphic

Yes, There Has Been Progress on Climate. No, It’s Not Nearly Enough. The New York Times (paywall) has perspective: “…In 2014, Climate Action Tracker estimated that the world was on track for nearly 4 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100, compared with preindustrial levels. Warming of 4 degrees has long been deemed a worst-case scenario. One assessment by the World Bank explored the risks, such as cascading global crop failures, and bluntly concluded that 4 degrees “simply must not be allowed to occur.” This year, however, Climate Action Tracker painted a more optimistic picture, because countries have started doing more to restrain their emissions. Current policies put the world on pace for roughly 2.9 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100...”