Tale of Two Weekends: From 40s to Heavy Slush?

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter flashed a fearful smile during a WCCO Radio interview at the Science Museum on Thursday. “We already used up our budget for 2019 snow removal!” he joked.

At least I think he was joking.

“Please Paul, not another winter like last winter.” I’m glad I don’t have that kind of power. Statistically, odds
are the MSP metro won’t see quite as much snow as last winter (77 inches).

But snow lovers could just get the last laugh. NOAA’s ClimatenPrediction Center says near normal temperatures and above average precipitation December into February.

Soak up a fine, 40-something weekend with enough sunshine to make you want to grab a rake (or a football). Although no major storms are likely before Thanksgiving, far southern Minnesota may be brushed by wet snow Tuesday night, with a light drizzly rain/snow mix possible Thanksgiving Day.

Getting home may be a bigger challenge. Models hint at a few inches of slush the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving as a big, sloppy southern storm approaches. Ugh.

Fire and ice file image courtesy of Steve Burns.

Temperature Moderation Brings More Precipitation. Dr. Mark Seeley provides weather context in this week’s Minnesota WeatherTalk post; here’s an excerpt: “After enduring the coldest first two weeks of November since 1991, temperatures over the past week have moderated from a few degrees warmer than normal to several degrees warmer than normal. With this change in pattern, more clouds and moisture have been prevalent too. Some areas of the state have seen precipitation (rain or snow) on four of the past five days. In fact portions of Fillmore, Wabasha, Olmstead, Mower, Freeborn, and Faribault Counties have reported between 1.5 and 2 inches of precipitation for the month so far. And up north many parts of Cass, Lake, St Louis, and Cook Counties reported 5 to 9 inches of snowfall on Wednesday and Thursday of this week…”

December Reckoning. GFS data from NOAA shows a sharp temperature drop after a potential snow event the weekend after Thanksgiving. Timing and amounts are up in the air, but there’s little doubt we’ll feel the full sting of winter the first week of December. Graphic: WeatherBell.

Potentially Nanook. A huge closed low stalled over the northern tier of the USA in early December? Looks more like January (again) with highs possibly in single digits and teens for a few days. Something to look forward to.

Barry Myers, White House Pick to Head NOAA, Withdraws Nomination Over Health Concerns. Daily Beast has an update: “Barry Myers, the former head of the private weather company AccuWeather, has withdrawn his nomination as the White House top pick to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) due to health reasons. Myers was a contentious choice—due both to his affiliation with his family-owned private weather-forecasting company, which sought to compete with the National Weather Service, and a string of sexual-harassment lawsuits at AccuWeather under his leadership. Myers’ decision to withdraw, first reported by the Washington Times, follows surgery and chemotherapy treatment for cancer…”
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/Reuters.

EPA Prosecutions of Polluters Approach Quarter-Century Lows. Associated Press reports: “Criminal prosecution and convictions of polluters have fallen to quarter-century lows under the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, deepening three years of overall enforcement declines, according to Justice Department statistics. And while the administration says it’s focusing on quality over quantity in pollution cases, using its enforcement resources to go after the biggest and worst offenders, an Associated Press analysis found little sign of that so far in court cases closed in 2019...”

Photo credit: “This Sept. 21, 2017 file photo shows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Building in Washington. Criminal prosecution and convictions of polluters haven fallen to quarter-century lows under the Trump administration. That’s according to Justice Department figures for fiscal year 2019. The EPA says it’s improved in some other enforcement categories. But a former EPA agent in charge says three years of declines show the agency dismantling criminal enforcement.” (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

Mexican “Smart City” Would be 100% Energy-Efficient, Self-Sustaining. Big Think has the post: “According to the firm’s press release, the city will cover 557 hectares, 400 of which will be green spaces containing 7,500,000 plants. Designed for 130,000 people to live and work there, it will feature a wide variety of housing types to accommodate the needs of its residents. The economy of the city will be circular, with all of its food, water, and energy needs being self-generated. The designs also include a grand research center so that the city can host university departments, conferences, and curious scholars of all ages…”
Image credit: “An aerial view of the proposed city. Notice the surrounding green space and extensive canal system.” Source: Stefano Boeri Architetti.

Secretive Energy Startup Backed by Bill Gates Achieves Solar Breakthrough. A newer/better way to do solar? Here’s an excerpt from CNN.com: “…Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven — one capable of reaching temperatures that are roughly a quarter of what you’d find on the surface of the sun. The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution. “We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions,” Bill Gross, Heliogen’s founder and CEO, told CNN Business. “And that’s really the holy grail...”

Will Tesla Deliver Full “Self-Driving” Capabilities Within a Few Weeks? Fortune has a long post; here’s an excerpt: “…Any release of Full Self-Driving (FSD) this year would be a massive public relations coup, giving Tesla at least some claim to be the winner of the decade-plus race to create a self-driving car. As a sizable bonus, the company says it would also allow nearly $500 million in revenue from pre-orders of the self-driving features, held off the books for years, to be recognized in quarterly earnings statements. This has the potential to transform Tesla’s near-term financial outlook. Tesla did not respond to multiple requests to comment for this story. But it has admitted that cars will not be fully autonomous when Full Self-Driving is released. “There’s the car being able to be autonomous, but requiring supervision and intervention at times…”

Tesla has more details on the just-unveiled Cybertruck here.

Will Anyone Buy Elon Musk’s New Pickup? The New York Times weighs in here.

Trucks Are Going Electric: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Tesla founder Elon Musk unveiled the company’s much-anticipated new truck model Thursday at a promotional event in Los Angeles. The futuristic Cybertruck models start at just under $40,000–significantly less than the $70,000 charged by competitor Rivian for its electric truck–and models will get between 250 and 500 miles of range off one charge. Hours before the demo event, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said that GM’s first electric pickup would go on sale in the fall of 2021. Lordstown Motors, the startup that bought GM’s Lordstown factory, also said Thursday that production of its truck would start in the fall of 2020 and that it would aim to deliver its first models at the end of next year.” (Tesla: CNN, ElektrekCNBC, The Verge. GM: CNN, Motor1, CNET, Fox. Lordstown: Fox, Jalopnik. Trucks: USA Today)

Photo credit above: CNET. Tesla unveiled a new electric-powered ATV which can be powered up in the bed of the new Cybertruck.

Greener, Longer Life: More Trees Reduce Premature Deaths in Cities. Thomson Reuters Foundation has a summary of new research: “City dwellers tend to live longer if they are in leafy neighbourhoods, according to a study published on Wednesday that linked green areas to lower rates of premature death. Trees in cities are already credited with cooling and cleaning the air and absorbing planet-warming gases, now researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have found they also keep death at bay. “More green space is better for health,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of the institute’s urban planning, environment and health initiative. “People actually live longer if there is more green space around.” The research, which pulled data from nine other studies involving more than eight million people in seven countries from China to Canada, was the largest ever conducted on the subject, the authors said…”

Photo credit: “A woman walks under the trees with autumn coloured leaves in Moscow, Russia October 8, 2019.” REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov.

Why Do We Eat Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving? I learned something at Mental Floss: “…Abraham Lincoln eventually declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 (to near-immediate outcry from Southerners, who viewed the holiday as an attempt to enforce Yankee values). Southern governors reluctantly complied with the presidential proclamation, but cooks in the South developed their own unique regional traditions. In the South, sweet potato pie quickly became more popular than New England’s pumpkin pie (mostly because sweet potatoes were easier to come by than pumpkins). Now, pumpkin pie reigns supreme as the most popular holiday pie across most of the United States, although the Northeast prefers apple and the South is split between apple and pecan, another Southern staple.”

Philippine Students Turn Dog Poo Into Bricks. Great idea, but I wonder what it smells like when it rains? Reuters has the story: “A group of secondary school students in the Philippines has found a way to convert poo from stray dogs into a mixture for bricks, aiming to rid city streets of excrement and potentially even lower construction costs. As part of a research project, eighth graders in the Payatas district north of the capital Manila gathered and air-dried dog faeces, which were then mixed with cement powder and moulded into rectangular “bio bricks”…”

30 F. Twin Cities high yesterday.

37 F. average high on November 22.

37 F. on November 22, 2018.

November 23, 2003: New London and Little Falls both receive 9 inches of new snow.

November 23, 1983: Heavy snowfall accumulates over most of central Minnesota with snowfall totals from 4 inches to almost 1 foot. Minneapolis received 11.4 inches of snow, while Farmington had 11 inches.

November 23, 1954: Very strong winds over Minnesota lead to considerable damage in downtown Wadena.

SATURDAY: Plenty of sunshine. Winds: W 8-13. High: 43

SUNDAY: Clouds increase, milder. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 33. High: 46

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flakes in the air. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 32. High: 41

TUESDAY: Light snow brushes far southern MN. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 29. High: 36

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, good travel day. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 25. High: 35

THANKSGIVING: Cloudy, light mix can’t be ruled out. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 27. High: 38

BLACK FRIDAY: Cool and damp. Light mix possible. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 29. HIgh: 36

Climate Stories….

Airline CEOs to Climate Activists: You’re Right, Our Industry is a Big Problem. Will bio-fuels or electric-hybrid planes solve the problem? Here’s the intro to a post at Vox: “Airline executives are feeling the headwinds of the growing alarm among travelers about the climate consequences of air travel — and acknowledging their industry isn’t doing enough to curb emissions. Air France CEO Anne Rigail told the audience of the Fortune Global Forum on Monday that flying shame had taken root in her own household among her husband and children. “It’s very good because I was not at all surprised by this whole thing about ‘flight shaming’,” she said. “I think it’s our biggest challenge.” Flights account for about 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and some travelers, most notably Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who gave up flying, are cutting back on flying to reduce their personal carbon footprint...”

Voters Want More Climate-Change Debate, but the Democratic Event Gave Less Than 10 Minutes to the Issue. Here’s a clip from a story at MarketWatch: “…But climate experts also worry that a lack of specific policy with price tags and the limitations of a debate format relegate the topic to low priority, even as Wall Street and Corporate America step up their own attention on the issue. Wednesday’s question lineup was also reflective of current headlines. The Trump impeachment hearings, taxes and foreign policy dominated the debate. The New York Times has tracked the total time given to various issues across the debates so far. Health care leads the 15-item topic list offered by the Times; candidate age ranks lowest. Climate change, earning a total of 32.6 minutes of debate air time so far, is nestled somewhere in the middle of the list, between party strategy and women’s rights…”

Photo credit: Associated Press. “Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Wednesday’s debate warned of climate change’s impact: “Major cities going underwater, we’re talking about increased drought, we’re talking about increased extreme weather disturbances.”

Democratic Senators Want the Fed to Better Prepare Banks for Climate Change. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports; here’s a snippet: “…The bill, if passed, directs the Fed to more formally incorporate climate-change-related risks into its regulatory regime for the financial sector. It would order the Fed to specifically “stress test” firms with more than $250 billion in total assets to ensure they can withstand the trouble that climate change can bring to the economy and the financial system. The bill also would direct the Fed to create an advisory panel of climate scientists and economists to create scenarios for the stress testing. Affected firms would also be required to come up with plans for various climate-related contingencies, including fire and rising seawater. The Federal Reserve hasn’t cropped up as much of a topic in the Democratic presidential race, but the sponsorship of the bill offers some hints about how at least some of the candidates view the central bank and its role in the economy...”

“Smart Cities” Urged to Look Beyond Rich, White Men. Here’s the intro to a post at Thomson Reuters Foundation: “A growing push to put cities on a digital path to a greener future risks excluding groups like the poorest, disabled and elderly, and will fail to benefit those people unless technology is used to help meet their needs, rights advocates have warned. They also called for women to be given a bigger say in urban planning that is based on high-tech tools such as big data and artificial intelligence, while speaking at an international conference on “smart cities” in Barcelona this week. “My fear is that smart cities end up benefiting the elite white men,” said Catherine D’Ignazio, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the United States, she said, national politics and other social spheres are shaped by “the privilege hazard”, in which a small, dominant group – often of rich, older men – make decisions for others whose lives and experiences they know little about…”

File image: PBS.

World’s Fossil Fuel Plans Will Shatter Paris Climate Limits, UN Warns. InsideClimate News explains: “The world’s top fossil fuel-producing nations are on track to extract enough oil, gas and coal to send global temperatures soaring past the goals of the Paris climate agreement, according to a United Nations report published Wednesday. If countries follow through on their current plans, they will produce about 50 percent more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be compatible with the international goal of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, the report said. They would blow past the more ambitious target of keeping warming under 1.5°C, the report found, with countries poised to produce twice as much oil, gas and coal by 2030 than would be allowable to meet that goal…”

Climate Emergency. The Guardian reports: “Oxford Dictionaries has declared “climate emergency” the word of the year for 2019, following a hundred-fold increase in usage that it says demonstrated a “greater immediacy” in the way we talk about the climate. Defined as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”, Oxford said the words soared from “relative obscurity” to “one of the most prominent – and prominently debated – terms of 2019.” According to the dictionary’s data, usage of “climate emergency” soared 10,796%...”

Minneapolis Fund Recognizes Efforts to Fight Climate Change. Star Tribune reports: “A Minneapolis fund capped off its first year of awarding grants with recognition of three community organizations for their creative efforts to counter climate change. The Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund, a partnership of the city of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Foundation and the McKnight Foundation, issues grants for community-driven initiatives and projects that show results in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, renewable energy and other means. The fund received more than $240,000 in requests from 11 applicants in this second round of grants in its inaugural year...”

Photo credit: “Richard Tsong-Taatarii • rtsong-taatarii@startribune.com. “Dream of Wild Health’s seed database received $15,000 from the Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund.”

Climate Change and Dark Money. Because no industry wants to be disrupted, including the fossil fuel industry. Here’s a clip from The Boston Globe: “The earth is spinning toward climate catastrophe. The international community has about a decade to take the steps necessary to avoid breaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius safety zone that the scientific community has established. It will take American leadership to achieve that goal, which means not only bold action in Congress, but meaningful leadership from the president, our allies around the globe, and leadership from powerful forces like major corporations. Unfortunately, much of corporate America so far failed to step up and sufficiently support policies that would begin to address the existential threat of climate change. Many individual corporations, perhaps out of conviction, perhaps out of the desire to keep and win over new customers, profess to be on the side of fighting climate change…”

File image: Ars Technica.