At Least We’re Not Tracking Wildfires

“Don’t sweat the flurries”. Using the app I just listened to a radio traffic report from Los Angeles. The poor announcer was trying to route commuters away from raging fires. Smoke. Visibility. A wall of flames racing at 60 miles an hour. Wildfires take fear of the unknown to another level. Power is out. Some California towns are running out of water (they need it to fight the fires).

Perspective. In the coming weeks and months we’ll be tempted to gripe about snow and ice gumming up our commutes. Remember, it’s not glimpse of Hell. It’s just frozen water.

The pattern isn’t ripe for big storms anytime soon. A clipper whips up a fistful of flurries today. Showers of rain and wet snow arrive Monday, with a few inches of accumulation for northern Minnesota; little more than a coating in the metro, if that.

A stronger clipper arrives the middle of next week with highs holding in the 20s next Thursday.

The second weekend of November may bring 40s, even a shot at 50s. Hey, lower your expectations!

Mid-November: Positively Zonal. Looking out 2 weeks (which is not for the faint of heart) GFS guidance suggests a west to east flow for the USA, hinting at temperatures close to average, and a lack of significant storms.

Halloween Blizzard of 1991. Who can forget? I’d like to forget, because this storm showed the utter limitations of meteorology. In the end Mother Nature gets the last laugh. Here’s an excerpt of a good recap at Wikipedia: “In eastern Minnesota, the Halloween Blizzard shattered many of the previous October snowfall records. The 8.2 inches that fell in the Twin Cities on October 31 was more snow than had ever been recorded in any October in its recorded history. November 1 saw similar daily records fall, but with a more wide reaching area from most of central Minnesota eastward to La Crosse and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Following the storm Arctic air poured southward from Canada to produce many record low temperatures in these same areas. Bismarck, North Dakota, sank to −10 °F on October 31, breaking their previous record low of 6 °F (−14 °C) by 16 degrees. Record snow and cold was recorded as far south as Nebraska and Colorado.The Arctic air also spread over Chicago, recording a low of 11 on November 4. Four weeks later on November 29 – 30, another large storm system dropped as much as 18 inches of snow over these same areas. These two storms combined to set a single-month record for most snowfall in the Twin Cities and Duluth…”

Halloween 1991 Snowfall Map. 28″ in the Twin Cities and 37″ at Duluth? Serious snow (well over 2 feet) in a swath from the Twin Cities metro to the Minnesota Arrowhead.Map: Minnesota DNR.

Duluth, Which Hasn’t Declared a Snow Emergency in More Than 12 Years, Looking to Overhaul Rules. Yes, they probably are hardier, and they have FAR less traffic on their highways. Star Tribune reports; here’s an excerpt: “…Minneapolis and St. Paul each declared a handful of snow emergencies last winter, when the Twin Cities received a whooping 77 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service. Duluth surpassed that total by almost 3 feet. But Benning said he still doesn’t expect to have to declare snow emergencies as frequently as they do in the metro. “We’re a little hardier up here in Duluth,” he said. “This isn’t going to be a couple inches of snow. When you see it, you’re going to know why I declared it.” This coming winter, officials said they plan to focus on education more than enforcement…”

Photo credit: Brian Peterson, StarTribune. Duluth may start a system for clearing heavy snow on its streets and sidewalks under a new city ordinance.”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, October 31st, 2019:

  • Several wildfires continue to burn in southern and northern California, with the largest being the Kincade Fire in northern California. We also saw the Easy Fire ignite yesterday morning and burn near the Reagan Library, and several new fires overnight across southern California.
  • Extreme fire danger continues today across southern California, especially this morning in the Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, and San Diego County mountains. The good news is that winds will start to subside later in the day, helping to decrease the fire danger by the evening hours.
  • An Enhanced Risk of severe weather is in place across portions of the eastern United States, including Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Raleigh. As a line of storms forms with a cold front this afternoon and evening, damaging winds will be the main threat. A few embedded tornadoes can’t be ruled out as well.

Active Fires. Fires continue to burn across California this morning, with the largest being the Kincade Fire in northern California (though progress was made yesterday on this fire). We also saw the Easy Fire ignite yesterday morning in Simi Valley. Here’s an update on some of the fires across the region (you can find the interactive version of the map above along with more information on these fires from CalFire here:

  • Kincade Fire: The Kincade Fire has burned 76,825 acres and is 45% contained. Good progress was made yesterday due to favorable weather conditions. Numerous evacuation orders and warnings remain in place.
  • Tick Fire: The Tick Fire has burned 4,615 acres and is 98% contained.
  • Getty Fire: The Getty Fire has burned 745 acres and is 39% contained. Some mandatory evacuation orders and warnings were lifted at 5 PM Wednesday. This fire is being managed by the Los Angeles Fire Department, and the latest information can be found here:
  • Easy Fire: The Easy Fire has burned 1,648 acres and is 0% contained according to the Ventura County Fire Department. Two structures have been destroyed, and mandatory/voluntary evacuations are in place. More information can be found at
  • Hill Fire: The Hill Fire in Jurupa Valley has burned 628 acres and is 30% contained. The latest information from the Riverside County Fire Department:
  • Hillside Fire: The Hillside Fire in San Bernardino has quickly grown to 200 acres early this morning prompting mandatory evacuations. The latest information from Inciweb:
  • 46 Fire: This new fire this morning has burned 75 acres and is 0% contained in Jurupa Valley. The latest information from the Riverside County Fire Department:

Strong Morning Wind Gusts. Strong winds have been blowing across southern California this morning, with wind gusts between 45-55 mph in the mountains and 30-45 mph in the valley and coastal areas. These winds have been fanning wildfires across the region.

Extreme Fire Danger Today. Strong winds will continue to impact southern California today – especially during the morning hours – due to a tight pressure gradient in place across the region. These winds, combined with low humidity values, lead to a continuation of extreme fire danger across the Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, and San Diego County mountains through at least the morning hours. Rapid spreading of any new or ongoing wildfires can be expected with these conditions in place. The good news is that winds should start to subside some as we head into the afternoon, which will help to reduce the fire threat.

Red Flag Warnings. Due to the continuing fire danger, Red Flag Warnings are in effect. This means that fire weather conditions will be in place, including those strong winds and low humidity values, which would allow any new or ongoing fires to rapidly spread.

Wind Concerns. High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories remain in place across portions of southern California into the early and mid-afternoon hours today. In areas under High Wind Warnings, wind gusts of 50-70 mph will be possible, especially around and for a few hours after sunrise. Across Wind Advisory areas, gusts of 40-50 mph will be possible. Again, these winds will start to subside as we head through the afternoon hours.

Enhanced Severe Threat. We’re also monitoring an elevated severe threat in the eastern United States later today. As a cold front moves east this afternoon and evening, a line of strong to severe thunderstorms are expected to develop along it. These storms will mainly be capable of damaging winds, although a few tornadoes can’t be ruled out. Due to the threat, an Enhanced Risk of severe weather is in place from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, including Baltimore (MD), Washington D.C., Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro (NC). Below is a look at potential timing of the storms later today:

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

California Keeps Burning: Healines and links via Climate Nexus: “More than 10 fires continue to burn across California this week as firefighters fight to save homes and businesses and millions of people are affected. In Northern California, firefighters said they had gotten control of the Kincade Fire, which has burned more than 76,000 acres, as lighter-than-expected winds and forecasted calm days brought relief to the area. In Los Angeles, the Easy Fire came within 100 yards of the Reagan Library and forced evacuation of many elderly patrons; the building was ultimately saved thanks to a buffer zone chewed by goats. Early Thursday morning, the Riverside County fire department told CNN that another fire had broken out in Jurupa Valley, and was “burning with a rapid rate of spread.” (Fires: CNN, LA Times $, LAist. Kincade: Mercury News. Easy: AP, USA TodayKABC, LA Times $. New fire: CNN, LA Times $. Commentary: Washington Post, Patti Davis op-ed $, CNN, Matt Villano essay)

If Facts Don’t Make You Prepare for a Hurricane, What Does? The only thing harder to predict than the weather is human nature and rational decision-making. Grist reports: “North Carolina is a magnet for hurricanes. Hurricanes Matthew and Florence both paid a visit in recent years, inundating towns and causing billions in damage. So if anyone in the United States knew firsthand that climate change was here, it would be the residents of New Hanover County, home to Wilmington and one of most vulnerable places in the country to hurricanes and sea-level rise. A new study published in the journal Climatic Change looked at whether homeowners in this coastal county accepted climate science, and whether that made a difference in how they safeguarded their house against a future storm. The short answer: It didn’t. The conventional wisdom is that if people knew the threat they faced and believed measures to protect their home would work (and had the money to act) they’d do the logical thing and try to keep their family safe...”

Image credit: Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA.

Who Has the Advantage in Colder Weather: Pitchers or Hitters? Here’s an excerpt of a timely post at Yahoo News: “…The pitchers always have the advantage in the cold weather because it’s hard for hitters to feel the bat,” said McLaren, who briefly managed the Nationals and Seattle Mariners and has been a coach for the Nationals, Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies. “I know most good pitchers would like to throw in cold weather because they know the hitters are not loose, they’re stiff, they have a lot of clothes on to stay warm.”And even when the batter gets the ball on the good part of the bat, on real cold days it’s usually thick air and moist and the ball doesn’t travel as far,” McLaren added…”

How to Horrify First Responders. Huffington Post has a scream-worthy story; here’s an excerpt: “First responders to a car accident in South Point, Ohio, were treated to a real-life excerpt from a horror show on Friday night. Sidney Wolfe, a student at West Virginia’s Marshall University, was driving home from a haunted house event where she was promoting her upcoming role in a musical adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic horror novel “Carrie.” Wolfe was still in her full Carrie White costume ― complete with prom dress, tiara and fake blood, when her car struck a deer. First responders to a car accident in South Point, Ohio, were treated to a real-life excerpt from a horror show on Friday night…”

Hold the Red Wine Please. NBC News has a cautionary tale: “A New Jersey woman said her luxury Hermès handbag was ruined when a waiter at a Bergen County country club spilled red wine on it. She’s now suing the privately-owned club and server for negligence, claiming that she suffered “property damage in the approximate cost of $30,000.” In the suit, filed Tuesday in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Maryana Beyder said she was dining at the Alpine County Club in Demarest in September 2018 when the waiter spilled wine “all over” her and her handbag…Errico said the light-pink purse has a sentimental value for Beyder because it was a gift from her husband for her 30th birthday. The attorney said the bag, which was discontinued by the high-end French fashion brand, is now covered in large stains.…”

36 F. Twin Cities high yesterday.

51 F. average high on October 31.

54 F. high on October 31, 2018.

November 1, 2000: An F1 tornado touches down on a farm east of Prinsburg in Kandiyohi County destroying a small storage shed. It also tipped another shed on its side, and ripped off a portion of the roof of a third shed.

November 1, 1999: High winds are reported in central Minnesota. The St. Cloud State University Meteorology Department in Stearns County recorded a 65 mph gust. The Morris AWOS in Stevens County posted a 62 mph gust and the Willmar AWOS in Kandiyohi county recorded a 59 mph gust. Area-wide sustained winds of 40 mph occurred, with gusts in the 45 to 50 mph range.

November 1, 1991: Classes are canceled across the state due to the Halloween Blizzard. Three foot drifts are measured across I-94 from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud. MSP airport records its all-time record daily snowfall total of 18.5 inches.

FRIDAY: Few sprinkles and flurries. Winds: NW 8-13. High: near 40

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, brisk. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: 39

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, a notch “milder”. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 32. High: 45

MONDAY: Light rain and snow showers. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 34. High: near 40

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, probably dry. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 24. High: 35

WEDNESDAY: Flurries, then clearing. Gusty. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 26. High: 32

THURSDAY: Cold sunshine, light winds. Winds: NW 3-8. Wake-up: 19. High: 29

Climate Stories….

“This Will Only Get Worse in the Future”. Experts See Direct Line Between California Wildfires and Climate Change. CBS News reports: “California is likely to continue to experience larger and more destructive wildfires as the nation’s most populated state gets hotter and drier. A recent study published in Earth’s Future suggests that the increasing size of wildfires occurring across California in the last 50 years is attributable to climate change drying out the landscape. “Since the early 1970s, California’s annual wildfire extent increased fivefold, punctuated by extremely large and destructive wildfires in 2017 and 2018,” the researchers wrote. “This trend was mainly due to an eightfold increase in summertime forest‐fire area and was very likely driven by drying of fuels promoted by human‐induced warming...”

Why Carbon Capture Hasn’t Saved Us From Climate Change Yet. FiveThirtyEight has an interesting post; here’s a clip: “…Today, there are 19 large-scale commercial carbon capture and sequestration facilities1 operating around the world, 10 of which are in the United States, according to the Global CCS Institute. All of them are pulling carbon dioxide out of the emissions from an associated factory or power plant. Systems that pull CO2 out of the ambient air, like the ones Andrew referenced in his question, do exist. They’re just harder and more expensive to operate because the concentration of CO2 in the air is so much lower, Nemet said. “At a power plant, 10 to 20 percent of what goes up the smokestack is CO2, compared to .04 percent in the air,” he said…”

Image credit: Wikipedia.

Warming Fall Nights. Climate Central looks at Halloween extremes for MSP and connects the dots with larger trends: “… In recent analyses we found that average fall temperatures in the United States have increased by 2.5°F over the past half century. While this increase has contributed to many daytime record high temperatures recently, it is actually overnight low temperatures that are warming fastest.This week, we examine this trend by updating our analysis of warming fall nights, this time focusing just on the month of October. Of the 242 cities analyzed, 78% (188) have warmed by more than 1°F in the past half-century, while only 3% (7) have cooled more than 1°F. The West and Gulf Coast have seen the most warming—Reno, Nev., topped the list with 12.3°F of warming, followed by Las Vegas (9.3°F), El Paso, Texas (8.9°F), Panama City, Fla. (7.6°F), and New Orleans (7.1°F)…”

Viewpoint: Responding to Climate Change is Not Partisan, It Is Deeply Christian. An Op-Ed at South Bend Tribune (Indiana) resonated; here’s an excerpt: “…As a result of climate change, the Midwest is projected to experience the greatest average temperature increase of any other region in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, the exposure of pregnant women to extreme heat in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy can lead to increased risk of congenital heart defects in the growing baby. Climate change is putting the health of young Hoosiers at risk. Responding to climate change is not partisan, it is deeply Christian. Evangelical Hoosiers recognize this. That’s why more than 21,000 of them signed a petition last year calling on the Indiana legislature and the governor to support policies that will move the state toward 100% renewable power generation by 2030…”

Rising Sea Levels on Track to Destroy the Homes of 300 Million People by 2050. Note to self. Don’t buy anything next to the ocean. Lakes are still a safer long-term bet. Here’s the intro to a CBS News story: “Rising sea levels are on track to affect about three times more people by 2050 than originally thought. New research suggests that 300 million homes will be affected by coastal flooding in the next 30 years. And that number could rise to 630 million by the year 2100 if carbon emissions don’t decrease. New estimates mean rising seas will cause more damage, cost more money and impact more communities than ever before. According to a study by Climate Central, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, land housing 300 million people will flood annually by 2050. Additionally, high tides may permanently rise above land that is home to 150 million people…”

File image: Jim Cole, AP.

People at Risk From Rising Seas 3x What We Thought: The amount of people who will be impacted by rising sea levels over the next thirty years could more than three times higher than previous estimates, new research shows. A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications used a more sophisticated method of evaluating elevation data than previous models to look at the number of people currently living on land below projected high-tide levels for 2050 and 2100. The startling new projections show that 300 million people could be affected, most of Vietnam could be underwater by 2050 and cities like Bangkok and Mumbai are at risk of being wiped out by the middle of the century. “These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines and entire global regions within our lifetimes,” Climate Central’s Scott Kulp, the lead author of the study, told the Guardian. (New York Times $, APWashington Post $, CNNThe Guardian, CBS, NYMag)

File image: Will Brown, Union of Concerned Scientists.

The False Comfort of Higher Seawalls. How high do want those walls to go? Here’s a clip from a story at The New Republic: “...New flood protection infrastructure can lead to low perceived risk, increased development, and thus amplified impacts when extremes eventually occur. It’s not enough to build a sea wall and call it a day. Investing not just in levies, but also in flood-resistant homes, and moving local infrastructure can make high-risk areas more resilient. But physical infrastructure is only one component. “Rather than just being about a wall or structure that’s in place—something that’s very static, something that can be destroyed, something that has to be rebuilt—we could build a society itself where shocks are part of the system,” Aldrich said. Social ties, it turns out, matter when it comes to disasters...”

File image: Brian Snyder, Reuters.