Beware of Extended Winter Outlooks

Beware of gloom and doom winter forecasts. They’re rarely right. The science just isn’t there. It’s the rough equivalent of predicting where the stock market (or pandemic) will be in February. Nope.

Keep in mind, only 1 in 4 Minnesota winters since 2000 has been colder than average. Our winters are trending shorter, milder and more fickle over time (sometimes it rains in January).

June through August was 3.9F warmer than average in Minnesota. Nationwide we tied 1936 (height of the Dust Bowl) for hottest summer on record, according to NOAA.

Minnesota’s drought is holding steady (not better or worse from last week) and I can’t get excited about rainfall amounts today. Spotty showers are likely, even a crackle of thunder.

A lingering shower is possible Saturday – Sunday looks nicer with more sunshine and 70F. In spite of a cooler front, temperatures hit or top 70F every day next week.

I see a turn to chillier weather the latter half of October (big surprise) with more frequent rain. Fingers crossed.

US Drought Monitor

Drought Conditions In Holding Pattern. It’s not getting better or worse, but pretty much holding, with the driest conditions over northern Minnesota, according to the US Drought Monitor.

September Rainfall Statistics. The metro picked up only 1.48” in September, 1.45” less rainfall than usual. The good news: rainfall was above average for much of central and northern Minnesota, putting a minor dent in the drought. Models suggest a wetter pattern returning by mid-October.

Friday Future Radar

Shower Opportunity Today. NOAA NDFD data (above) is printing out a little more rain from today’s frontal passage, maybe a third to a half inch of rain for some communities.

Cooling Back Down to “Average”. We’ve been spoiled with a recent run of 80s, but a correction was inevitable, but I wouldn’t exactly call this a cold front. Average highs at MSP are now close to 67F, but even with the cooling temperatures trend milder than average into most of next week.

ECMWF Temperatures for MSP
NOAA GFS Temperatures for MSP

Trending Chillier and Stormier by Mid-October? Long-range GFS guidance (above) predicts a series of storms approaching from the Pacific Northwest. My sense is wetter by mid-month, with a definite cooling trend the latter half of the month. We shall see.

August 28, 2021 file
NOAA and AerisWeather

Ida’s Impact On Louisiana Education Continues: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: ”As the accounting of, and recovery from, Hurricane Ida drags on, nearly 10% of all schoolchildren are still stuck at home as school systems and local officials struggle to recover from Hurricane Ida. The 70,000 students still unable to go back to school are mainly located in just five parishes in the southeastern part of the state. “It’s kind of hard to comprehend the amount of damage,” St. Charles Parish Superintendent Ken Oertling told state lawmakers Tuesday. Hurricane Ida, which intensified incredibly rapidly over exceptionally warm Gulf waters bore many of the hallmarks of climate change, which is caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. The financial toll of Hurricane Ida on local school districts is immense. Lafourche Parish alone faces an estimated $100 in damages, nearly two-thirds of its $160 million annual budget. Ida’s impacts on Louisiana children’s education goes beyond just school buildings of course. “Our students can’t return, there is nowhere for them to live. [Whether they live in] apartment complexes, housing developments, trailer parks they haven’t been able to return,” Calcasieu Parish Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus told lawmakers.” (AP; Repair costs: The Advocate; Housing: WAFB; Overall recovery: AP; Climate Signals background: 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season).

“Tornado Alley” in 2021

File image from September 9, 2020
NASA Earth Observatory

Air Pollution: The Silent Killer Called PM2.5. Here is an excerpt of a press release from McGill University in Montreal: “Millions of people die prematurely every year from diseases and cancer caused by air pollution. The first line of defense against this carnage is ambient air quality standards. Yet, according to researchers from McGill University, over half of the world’s population lives without the protection of adequate air quality standards. Air pollution varies greatly in different parts of the world. But what about the primary weapons against it? To find answers, researchers from McGill University set out to investigate global air quality standards in a study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. The researchers focused on air pollution called PM2.5 – responsible for an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths every year globally. This includes over a million deaths in China, over half a million in India, almost 200,000 in Europe, and over 50,000 in the United States…”

As California Burns, America Breathes Toxic Smoke. I was amazed that the air quality over the Plains and Upper Midwest has been so bad in recent years. Here’s a clip from KCRW Features: “Western wildfires pose a much broader threat to human health than to just those forced to evacuate the path of the blazes. Smoke from these fires, which have burned millions of acres in California alone, is choking vast swaths of the country, an analysis of federal satellite imagery by NPR’s California Newsroom and Stanford University’s Environmental Change and Human Outcomes Lab found. The months-long analysis, based on more than 10 years of data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and analyzed down to the ZIP code level, reveals a startling increase in the number of days residents are breathing smoke across California and the Pacific Northwest, to Denver and Salt Lake City in the Rocky Mountains and rural Kentucky and West Virginia in Appalachia…”

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

US Says Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, 22 Other Species Extinct. Associated Press has details: “Death’s come knocking a last time for the splendid ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 more birds, fish and other species: The U.S. government is declaring them extinct. It’s a rare move for wildlife officials to give up hope on a plant or animal, but government scientists say they’ve exhausted efforts to find these 23. And they warn climate change, on top of other pressures, could make such disappearances more common as a warming planet adds to the dangers facing imperiled plants and wildlife. The ivory-billed woodpecker was perhaps the best known species the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday will announce is extinct. It went out stubbornly and with fanfare, making unconfirmed appearances in recent decades that ignited a frenzy of ultimately fruitless searches in the swamps of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida...”

Paul Douglas

Electric Cars Have Hit an Inflection Point. The Atlantic summarizes where we are today, and where we may be heading; here’s the intro: “Take electric cars, for instance. An electric car is an expensive, highly specialized piece of technology, but building one takes even more expensive, specialized technology—tools that tend to be custom-made, large and heavy, and spread across a factory or the world. And if you want those tools to produce a car in a few years, you have to start planning now. That’s exactly what Ford is doing: Last night, the automaker and SK Innovation, a South Korean battery manufacturer, announced that they were spending $11.4 billion to build two new multi-factory centers in Tennessee and Kentucky that are scheduled to begin production in 2025. The facilities, which will hire a combined 11,000 employees, will manufacture lithium-ion vehicle batteries and assemble electric F-series pickup trucks. While Ford already has several factories in Kentucky, this will be its first plant in Tennessee in six decades...”

The Everyday Foods That Could Become Luxuries. Please, not the coffee (or chocolate). explains the trends and what food items may become pricier and harder to find: “…Today, chocolate and coffee are, once again, at risk of becoming expensive and inaccessible. “Chocolate and coffee could both become scarce, luxury foods again because of climate change,” says Monika Zurek, a senior researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. Vast swathes of land in Ghana and Ivory Coast could become unsuitable for cocoa production if global temperature rises reach 2C, according to a 2013 study. “Cocoa used to be for kings and nobody else. Climate change is hitting production areas hard…it could become more luxurious again,” says Zurek. Climate change could wipe out half of the land used to grow coffee worldwide by 2050, according to a 2015 study. Another study suggests that areas suitable for growing coffee in Latin America could decrease by 88% by 2050 due to rising temperatures…”

America’s Car Crash Epidemic. Vox has an eye-opening report (that makes me want to work from home indefinitely). Here’s the intro: “Driving is the most dangerous thing most Americans do every day. Virtually every American knows someone who’s been injured in a car crash, and each year cars kill about as many people as guns and severely injure millions. It’s a public health crisis in any year, and somehow, the pandemic has only made it more acute. Even as Americans have been driving less in the past year or so, car crash deaths (including both occupants of vehicles and pedestrians) have surged. Cars killed 42,060 people in 2020, up from 39,107 in 2019, according to a preliminary estimate from the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit that focuses on eliminating preventable deaths…”

Paul Douglas

Can An Average Passenger Actually Be Talked Into Landing a Plane During an Emergency? The short answer appears to be no, unless they have private pilot skills. Mental Floss has the post; here’s a clip: “…Thanks to the redundancy and rules in place, a pilotless cockpit is “extremely unlikely to ever happen,” Binstead tells Mental Floss. “But in the unlikely event it did, you’d want someone with flying experience if possible, even in small planes.” There have been a few notable events in which a passenger with flight experience has been called on to help. In 2014, the pilot of a United Airlines flight suffered a heart attack, and the co-pilot landed the plane with help from a passenger who, as luck would have it, was an off-duty USAF pilot. But not all planes are lucky enough to have a passenger who just so happens to be a pilot sitting in business class. And if that’s the case—which, again, would likely never happen—then you might have something to worry about…”

Americans Check Their Smartphones 96 Times a Day. That may be a conservative number. Fox5 in New York City has the post: “New research shows the U.S. is deep into the digital age with data showing Americans check their phones 96 times a day. That’s once every 10 minutes, according to global tech care company Asurion. The company also said it’s a 20% increase from a similar survey researchers conducted two years ago. However, Asurion said roughly 50% of Americans are attempting to use their phones less. The company’s data also showed 18- to 24-year-olds check their phones twice as much as the national average, and the age group is aware of their heavy phone usage…”

82 F. Twin Cities high on Thursday.

67 F. MSP average high on September 30.

64 F. high on September 30, 2020.

October 1, 1999: One of the earliest significant snowfalls in Minnesota history falls in a narrow track across southern Minnesota. Reported snowfall totals include 4.0 inches in Montgomery (Le Sueur County) and Northfield (Rice County), 3.8 inches in Springfield (Brown County), 3.0 inches in Vesta (Redwood county), and 2.8 inches in Mankato (Blue Earth County).

October 1, 1989: High temperatures across central and southern Minnesota reach the 80’s. Later in the day, a cold front would come through and drop the mercury to the 40’s.

FRIDAY: Showers, stray T-storm. Winds: S 5-10 High: 77

SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, stray shower. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 73

SUNDAY: Intervals of sun, a drier day. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 57. High: 71

MONDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 53. High: 73

TUESDAY: Mild sunshine, no complaints. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 52. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, still quiet. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 52. High: 72

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 53. High: 74

Climate Stories….


Biden’s Climate Agenda is Hanging by a Thread. Axios explains: “Democrats’ pathway to moving huge new climate investments through Congress is looking narrower than ever as negotiations over wide-ranging tax and spending legislation reach a fever pitch. Driving the news: Washington is enmeshed in tricky talks over sweeping legislation that covers taxes, health and social spending, and of course energy and climate.

Here are a few notes from the cliffhanger on Capitol Hill…

  • President Biden bailed on plans to visit Chicago in order to continue negotiations over the bipartisan infrastructure plan and the Democrats-only package with vastly larger clean energy investments.
  • Via E&E News, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) still has big concerns with the proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP). That’s the new system of financial carrots and sticks Democratic leaders want to provide utilities to speed up the deployment of zero-carbon power…”

Morning Consult

Most of the Public Views Disasters, Storms as Increasingly Severe.And They Expect That Trend to Continue. Morning Consult (thank you Blois Olson) has details; here’s the intro: “As the country reels from yet another record-setting disaster season, a majority of U.S. adults are anticipating things will only get worse, per new polling from Morning Consult. Asked to reflect on the past five years, 61 percent of the public says disasters and storms have been getting more severe, while 30 percent say their severity has remained roughly steady; just 2 percent (within the poll’s 2-percentage-point margin of error) said they have gotten less severe. And 55 percent of adults say they expect the wildfires, hurricanes, floods and droughts that have become a feature of almost every season in recent years to become increasingly severe in the next five. Roughly one-third of respondents say they expect the status quo to remain…”

For the First Time, Most Americans Say Global Warming Is Currently Harming US. Truthout has the post: “More Americans than ever are worried about global warming, according to data that stretches back to 2008 from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The increase is reflective of growing concern over the climate crisis as Americans experienced climate disaster after climate disaster this summer. The survey shows that, for the first time, a majority of Americans think that people in the U.S. are “being harmed right now” by global warming, with 55 percent of the 1,006 people surveyed responding as such. Furthermore, the amount of people who report being worried about global warming is at an all-time high, with 35 percent of respondents saying they’re “very worried” and 35 percent saying they’re “somewhat worried…”

Hurricane Ida impacts

Climate Change and Extreme Weather: Hurricanes, Wildfires and Flood Maps. Some interesting statistics via the CARTO Blog: “…Each year, the United States averages some 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,300 tornadoes and 2 Atlantic hurricanes, as well as widespread droughts and wildfires. Hurricane Ida was a deadly and destructive Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that became the second-most damaging and intense hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. state of Louisiana on record, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Before Ida made landfall, BuzzFeed News created a series of maps, using data from the National Weather Service (NWS), forecasting the track, winds, rain, and flooding alongside areas with storm surge warnings and watches. Maps such as these allow authorities to make decisive emergency decision making with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordering the mandatory evacuation of all areas outside of the levee protections system...”

Greta Thunberg Roasts World Leaders on Climate in “Blah, Blah, Blah” Speech. has the post: “Swedish activist Greta Thunberg mocked world leaders — including US President Joe Biden and the UK’s Boris Johnson — at a youth climate summit in Milan on Tuesday, saying the last 30 years of climate action had amounted to “blah, blah, blah.” Thunberg imitated the leaders by repeating their commonly used expressions on the climate crisis, shooting them down as empty words and unfulfilled promises. “When I say climate change, what do you think of? I think jobs. Green jobs. Green jobs,” she said, referencing Biden’s speeches on the climate crisis...”


Insurance Companies Worried About Climate Change: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Climate change has surpassed insurance companies’ concerns over diseases and pandemics, according to a new report released yesterday by French insurance company AXA. The report, which surveyed 3,500 insurance professionals, showed that global warming ranked number one among insurers’ biggest concerns. “Climate change is back at the top of the agenda,” AXA Chief Executive Officer Thomas Buberl said in a statement. “This is good news since last year we feared that the explosion of health risks may overshadow the climate emergency.” Climate risks have been on insurance companies’ radars for some time: climate worry also was at the top of the survey in 2018 and 2019, but the recent IPCC report illustrated how widespread and destructive climate-related disasters already are and will continue to be if the world does not rapidly reduce fossil fuel combustion while scaling up global resilience and adaptation efforts. The survey also found that more than four-fifths of the professionals surveyed lack faith in governments to combat the crisis.” (Bloomberg $)


The US Infrastructure Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough to Climate-Proof the Electric Grid. Quartz examines the grid’s vulnerability to extreme weather events: “The future of the US electric grid will be on the line on Sept. 30, when the House of Representatives votes on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is at the heart of president Joe Biden’s agenda. The bill includes about $27 billion for the grid, including loans to utility companies to invest in climate change protections, cybersecurity and software upgrades, and funding for transmission projects. But the bill’s most important provision for the grid isn’t about money. It’s a tweak to an obscure law that should make it easier for developers to build long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines, a necessary ingredient for a grid with lots of renewable energy that has been stymied by jealous utilities. But it doesn’t go far enough, some experts say, to truly clear the path to one of Biden’s goals: a carbon-free grid by 2035...”

Climate Central

Climate Change and Wine. No, not the wine, please. Climate Central explains the trends: “Fine wine production is likely to shift due to climate change. Among agricultural products, wine grapes are one of the most sensitive crops to variations in temperature and precipitation. In the United States, the average growing season temperature (April-October) has risen 2.0°F since 1970. Premium wine grapes can only be grown in places that support a delicate balance of heat and precipitation. Globally, wine grapes are grown in areas where the average growing season temperature (spring through fall) occurs within a narrow range of 18°F. For some grapes, such as pinot noir, the average temperature range is a much narrower 3.6°F. Other climate change threats to wine production include exposure to wildfire smoke, extreme heat waves, heavy precipitation, unexpected spring frosts, and drought. And with shorter and milder winters, insects and other grapevine pests are having longer life spans...”

Climate Central