Nuisance Snow May Create Travel Nuisance Today

My lawn was still a supernatural shade of puke-green when my backyard thermometer sank to 5F yesterday. According to NOAA that’s the earliest, coldest temperature in the metro since November 4, 1991, when we woke up to -4F (bitter air on the backside of the Halloween Blizzard).

Southern moisture necessary for a knock-down, drag-out snowstorm will be limited into Thanksgiving; our pattern highlighted by a rag-tag parade of scrawny Alberta Clippers. One such fast-moving swirl of low pressure may drop a quick inch on our heads today, before skies dry out Thursday.

As is often the case, temperature & timing can be mitigating factors. “It’s only an inch!” falls flat when a burst of snow arrives during peak traffic, with an air temperature near 20F. Leave extra time this morning.

Although I can’t promise Indian Summer, temperatures will moderate with a string of 40s from this weekend into Thanksgiving.

One benefit of living here? After a freakish cold front, “freezing” can feel like sweet relief.

Candy-Coating of Snow. Today’s clipper drops light snow and flurries – latest guidance suggesting a coating to about an inch in some areas; more over Wisconsin. Maps above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

ECMWF Snowfall Forecast. The European model predicts about an inch of snow for the immediate Twin Cities; potentially just enough to complicate driving today. Map: WeatherBell.

Relatively Mild Thanksgiving Week? NOAA’s GFS model is fairly consistently carving out a relatively mild and dry ridge of pressure for the central USA before Thanksgiving, an almost Omega Block pattern sparking cold, stormy weather for New England and the west coast.

Hurricanes on the Scale of Harvey or Katrina Are Now 3 Times More Likely Than a Century Ago. Business Insider takes a look at the trends: “…According to a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, extremely destructive storms like Harvey and Katrina — hurricanes that decimate large coastal areas to the tune of billions of dollars  — have gotten far more common in the US relative to their less damaging counterparts…So Grinsted coined a new metric: “area of total destruction,” or ATD. It’s a measurement of how big an area a given hurricane would have to destroy to equal the associated economic losses. The study authors concluded that the frequency of the most damaging hurricanes (defined as ATDs exceeding 467 square miles) increased 330% century-over-century. Moderate storms with an ATD of 50 square miles or less, by comparison, increased at a rate of 140% per century…”

Graphic credit: Shayanne Gal/Business Insider.

AP: At Least 1,680 Dams Across the U.S. Post Potential Risk. Associated Press explains: “A more than two-year investigation by The Associated Press has found scores of dams nationwide in even worse condition, and in equally dangerous locations. They loom over homes, businesses, highways or entire communities that could face life-threatening floods if the dams don’t hold. A review of federal data and reports obtained under state open records laws identified 1,688 high-hazard dams rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition as of last year in 44 states and Puerto Rico. The actual number is almost certainly higher: Some states declined to provide condition ratings for their dams, claiming exemptions to public record requests. Others simply haven’t rated all their dams due to lack of funding, staffing or authority to do so...”

File photo: “This photo provided by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources shows the Spencer Dam near Spencer, Neb., in March 2019, after the dam failed during a flood.” (Nebraska Department of Natural Resources via AP).

Neglected Dams Across the U.S. Kudos to Associated Press for diving into dam safety. Check out an interactive map here: “Thousands of people in the U.S. may be at risk from dams that are rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition. An AP analysis found 1,688 dams in these conditions are high hazard, meaning their failure can cause human death.”

Map credit: Sources: State Dam Safety Departments; Location intelligence company, Esri.

A Photographer Spent 7 Years Chasing Storms through Tornado Alley. His Photos Are Amazing. Insider has the story, and a terrific collection of remarkable photos: “Eric Meola has been a respected photographer for 50 years, working with artists like Bruce Springsteen, and brands like Timberland and Porsche. But photographing the Great Plains has always been something of a passion project for him. This November, Meola released “Fierce Beauty,” a book dedicated to the awe-inspiring severe weather events that occur in the Midwestern, western, and southern United States. Meola spent years traveling through Tornado Alley, capturing storms, rainbows, and everything in between. Here are 15 of the most breathtaking photos from “Fierce Beauty...”

Photo credit: “Rainbow and Falling Hail in Keota, Colorado,” on June 21, 2018.” Courtesy of Eric Meola.

Target Needs to Get Serious About Reducing Plastic. Star Tribune has an Op-Ed; here’s an excerpt: “For years, corporations have told us that if we recycle more and do our individual parts, we can help tackle plastic pollution. But we now know that this will never be enough. Only 9% of all plastic ever made has actually been recycled. To truly stem the tide on plastic pollution, we need the corporations that rely on cheap throwaway plastics to stop producing them to begin with. And we need major retailers, like Target, to shift toward reuse systems. It is time for a reckoning that moves the world beyond single-use plastics…”

Photo credit: David Denney • Star Tribune. “Target’s aisles are filled with plastic-wrapped food, and often those items get placed in plastic bags at the checkout.”

The Promise of Virtual Power Plants. A story at CNN Business discusses the challenges facing renewable energy (including baseload power): “Virtual power plants could solve one of renewable energy’s most vexing challenges: the weather. By supplying electricity from renewable sources even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, virtual power plant technology could help tackle the climate crisis. “If you can’t rely on renewable energy and other technologies to provide the energy you need in a controllable way then you are always going to have to carry fossil fuel plants to make up for the unpredictability,” Phil Taylor, professor of energy systems at Newcastle University in England, told CNN Business. Conventional power plants can account for fluctuations in demand and supply by, for example, burning more coal, Taylor said. But clean energy sources, such as wind farms and solar plants, are weather dependent and therefore much more difficult to control, he said...”

Image credit:

Green Jobs Now Employ 10x More People Than Fossil Fuel. A story at Big Think caught my eye: “According to a pair of economic researchers in the United Kingdom, the United States green economy now employs 10 times more people than the fossil fuel industry. And that isn’t to say that the fossil fuel industry hasn’t been growing. In fact, from 2015 to 2016, the fossil fuels industry, which includes coal, oil, and natural gas, employed approximately 900,000 people in the U.S. according to government figures. But the two British researchers — they are based at University College London — found that over the same period this was eclipsed by the green economy, which actually provided nearly 9.5 million jobs. That’s 4 percent of the population of working age individuals...”

Try to Avoid Dr. Google. The New York Post reports: “Two in five Americans have falsely convinced themselves they have a serious disease, after turning to “Dr. Google” – according to new research. A survey of 2,000 Americans found that 43 percent have looked their symptoms up online and ended up believing they had a much more serious illness than in actuality. Sixty-five percent of respondents have used the internet to self-diagnose themselves, but the results show typing your symptoms into the search bar might do more harm than good…”

Christmas Lights In Your Beard? And why the heck not. Here’s an excerpt from Tips For Home: “…The LED lights come in different colors and there are 18, enough to decorate anything from a goatee to a full-on ZZ Top beard. They are just like normal fairy lights but so small you can hide them in your facial fuzz. You might want to remember that these are so small they are easy to forget you have them in your beard. Just make sure that you don’t wear them out in the rain or in the shower…”

Relax Boomers. You’re OK, Just Old. The truth hurts, but it also sets you free, right? Right? Here’s a clip of a column at The Los Angeles Times: “…So come on, boomers, stop being snowflakes. You are OK, you’re just getting old. Yes, we’re all a long way from the Haight and most of us never got there in the first place. But Jane Fonda was arrested for protesting and anyway, “OK, boomer” is not an insult, it’s a badge of honor. The fight continues. Go ahead and argue that social media and the digital economy have as many dangers as benefits. Texting your emotions and taking naked selfies can get folks into trouble. But just remember that “free love” and “turn on, tune in and drop out” did too. Seventy isn’t the new 30, but it is a very new kind of 70, which is why the young folk even bother talking about you. So take the win. And know that the moment boomers understand how to use TikTok, TikTok is done.”

5 F. low temperature in the Twin Cities Tuesday morning.

20 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP.

43 F. average high on November 12.

23 F. high on November 12, 2018.

November 13, 1986: Lakes are frozen over throughout much of the state, reaching as far south as Winona.

November 13, 1938: A snowstorm develops across northern Minnesota. The barometer falls to 29.31 inches in Duluth.

November 13, 1933: The first Great Dust Bowl Storm occurs. The sky darkened from Minnesota and Wisconsin to New York State.

WEDNESDAY: Quick inch of slushy snow. Icy travel. Winds: W 7-12. High: near 30

THURSDAY: Blue sky returns, better travel. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 16. High: 32

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, quiet. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 23. High: 38

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, nighttime shower. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 42

SUNDAY: Morning shower, clouds linger. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 30. High: near 40

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy. Welcome thaw lingers. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 32. High: 42

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, Pacific breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 33. High: 45

Climate Stories….

As Climate Change Threatens Midwest’s Cultural Identity, Cities Test Ways to Adapt. InsideClimate News focuses on how cities (including Rochester, Minnesota) are trying to become more climate-resilient: “…From her office window, Norton has a clear view of how close the Zumbro River is to overflowing downtown flood walls. The city has an enviable level of flood protection, installed after the devastating flood of 1978, but the walls were just barely enough to handle high waters last year. Torrential rains are happening more often in the city, part of a pattern seen across the Midwest. The government’s National Climate Assessment issued last year described how heavy rain events are increasingly causing disruption to transportation and damage to farms, property and infrastructure across the region, and it warned that that will continue to worsen in a warming world. Norton has put climate change at the forefront of her agenda since taking office in January...”

Climate Change Could End Mortgages As We Know Them. CBS News reports: “Climate change could punch a hole through the financial system by making 30-year home mortgages — the lifeblood of the American housing market — effectively unobtainable in entire regions across parts of the U.S. That’s what the future could look like without policy to address climate change, according to the latest research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The bank is considering these and other risks on Friday in an unprecedented conference on the economics of climate change. For the financial sector, adapting to climate change isn’t just an issue of improving their market share. “It is a function of where there will be a market at all,” wrote Jesse Keenan, a scholar who studies climate adaptation, in the Fed’s introduction…”

To Survive Climate Change, We’ll Need a Better Story. CityLab has a post drilling down into the power of effective framing and storytelling: “…Telling tales might seem an odd priority in a fast-transforming climate but, talking to CityLab by telephone, Grankvist insisted that such an approach was vital, for the simple reason that facts alone are not something people engage with. “We need storytellers because generally when scientists come up with conclusions, they are very non-personalized,” he says, “When you take research out into the public and you want people to connect with it, you have to involve an ‘I,’ a ‘we.’ My job is helping people to emotionally connect. When they emotionally connect with an issue, then they engage…”

Photo credit: “Swedish journalist Per Grankvist, AKA the “Scandinavian Malcolm Gladwell,” is the Viable Cities program’s chief storyteller.” Anna Hållams

Why the Fed, Long Reticent, Has Started to Talk About Climate Change. It’s all about minimizing (financial) risk. The New York Times (paywall) has the story: “Climate change is risky business — including for officials at the Federal Reserve. An increase in severe weather events could lead to bank failures as property prices rapidly adjust, stoke uncertainty and harm economic growth. That makes global warming and its fallout relevant to the Fed, which is responsible for both financial regulation and for guiding the nation’s economy toward full employment and stable prices. But those threats force the central bank, which prizes its political independence, to walk a tightrope. The Fed could be criticized for weighing in on a highly politicized issue: Survey data suggest that Democrats tend to be much more concerned with climate than Republicans...”

Photo credit: “” Credit: Ting Shen for The New York Times.

Fed Rings First Alarm on Climate: More links and perspective from Climate Nexus: “The Federal Reserve held its first-ever climate change conference Friday, signaling that the US’s central bank is gearing up to incorporate climate impacts and risks into financial assessments and policy. Speeches and findings delivered at the conference, hosted by the San Francisco branch of the bank, highlight various ways that climate change will alter global economics, inequality, and worker productivity. Unlike many of its global financial peers, the Fed, which keeps itself as nonpartisan as possible, has not yet openly embraced examining how climate change will impact its operations or look into green finance alternatives. “To support a strong economy and a stable financial system, the Federal Reserve needs to analyze and adapt to important changes to the economy and financial system,” Fed governor Lael Brainard said in a speech Friday. “This is no less true for climate change than it was for globalization or the information technology revolution.” (New York Times $, Reuters, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Axios, CBS)

Amid Flooding and Rising Sea Levels, Residents of One Barrier Island Wonder If It’s Time to Retreat. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post (paywall): “…Scientists have long warned that Ocracoke’s days are numbered, that this treasured island is a bellwether for vast stretches of the U.S. coast. “Virtually everyone from Virginia Beach south to the U.S./Mexico border is going to be in the same situation in the next 50 years,” said Michael Orbach, professor emeritus of marine affairs at Duke University. “And it’s only going to get worse after that.” If Ocracoke’s ultimate prognosis is grim, Tom Pahl, the township’s county commissioner, remains committed to its recovery. “Is this really sustainable? The answer is pretty clearly no,” he said. “But what’s the timeline? No one has been able to say, ‘You’ve got 15 years, 40 years, 100 years.’ The clear-eyed vision is resiliency then retreat...”

Photo credit: “The home of Edward and Stella O’Neal is torn down due to damage caused by flooding during Hurricane Dorian in Ocracoke.” (Daniel Pullen/for The Washington Post).

A Fine Scandinavian Wine? Warming Climate Tempts Entrepreneurs. The New York Times has another sign of the times: “…A decade ago, winemaking was regarded as a losing proposition in these notoriously cool climes. But as global temperatures rise, a fledgling wine industry is growing from once-unlikely fields across Scandinavia, as entrepreneurs seek to turn a warming climate to their advantage. “We’re looking for the opportunities in climate change,” said Mr. Moesgaard, the founder of Skaersogaard Vin, cradling a cluster of golden grapes. “In the coming decades, we’ll be growing more wine in Scandinavia while countries that have traditionally dominated the industry produce less…”