Frost on the Pumpkin Getting Closer

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better” said Abraham Lincoln. Over the years I’ve seen things I can’t explain, but I’ve never seen so many (alleged) grown-ups bent out of shape over a 16-year old. Maybe it’s because Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is speaking truth to power. Because our children
are doing what our generation could not. Because young people are weary of ‘debating the science’ and want policies that lower climate risk now.

Because the situation isn’t hopeless – and we aren’t helpless.

Tuesday’s noisy cool front gives way to a stiff northwest breeze, drying us out today into Thursday. A few
showers flare up on Friday, followed by cool, dry weather much of Saturday. A surge of warmth sparks more thunderstorms Sunday, and a frontal boundary stalling out close to home may still squeeze out a few inches of rain, before a (much) colder front arrives late next week.

Right on schedule I see a frost risk up north 8-10 days from now. It’s time. So long skeeters.

Good riddance!

An Inevitable Downhill Slide. We’ve probably seen the last 90s, but I expect a few more 80s, possibly early next week, before temperature tumble to sweatshirt levels by late next week with a frost likely up north. ECMWF guidance: WeatherBell.

Seasonably Chilly. GFS model guidance looking out roughly 2 weeks shows a zonal flow with temperatures below average over the northern tier of the USA; summer heat hanging on from Arizona into the southeastern USA.

Nowhere For All the Water to Go. Yes, it’s getting wetter out there over time. That’s not a climate model, that’s measuring rain in a rain gauge (or overflowing lake). Star Tribune reports: “...By some estimates, the cost of these upgrades statewide could run into hundreds of millions of dollars in coming years, an expense that is likely to turn up in higher utility fees for homeowners and businesses. Nationally, the adaptation costs could reach $12 billion in coming decades, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Minnesotans see the evidence all around them: soggy lawns, crumbling curbs, flooded intersections, scoured stream banks. Even geysers erupting in the streets. On the wettest days, stormwater can also wash into sanitary sewers — the pipes that carry sewage and other municipal wastewater to water treatment plants — resulting in emergency discharges of raw or partly treated sewage into Minnesota’s lakes and rivers…”

Houston Cleans Up After Imelda’s Devastating Rains: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Authorities confirmed a fifth death this weekend linked to devastating rainfall from Tropical Storm Imelda as the Houston area struggles to recover from last week’s intense flooding. Around 60 residents were rescued by boat Friday after the storm dropped as much as 43 inches of rain in some areas. Cleanup crews are still surveying damages in the area to determine if the county is eligible for FEMA funds to mitigate the impacts. Extreme rainfall is a classic signature of climate change: the number of record-breaking rainfall events globally has significantly increased in recent decades, and the fingerprint of global warming is documented in this pattern.” (AP, Houston Chronicle $, LA Times $, Texas Tribune, Fox News. Background: Climate Signals)

Photo: Fox Business. “People wait outside of their stranded vehicles along Interstate 10 westbound at T.C Jester, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The freeway was closed because of high water east bound on the freeway.” (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday, September 24th, 2019:

  • Tropical Storm Karen is bringing heavy rain across the Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra this morning. As of 8 AM ET, Karen had sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving to the north at 7 mph. The center of Karen was located 85 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Karen will move northward today, gradually turning northeast tonight into Wednesday. This track will bring the center of Karen near or over portions of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, with heavy rain and strong winds possible today and Wednesday. Tropical Storm Warnings are in place for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • By the end of the week the system will move into the western Atlantic and slowly gain strength. However, models differ on the exact strength and path of Karen as we go into the weekend.

Karen As Of Tuesday Morning. Even through Karen weakened into a tropical depression late yesterday, the storm re-strengthened into a Tropical Storm this morning with the inner core becoming a little better organized. Heavy rain is occurring this morning across the Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra. As of the 8 AM EDT update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Karen had winds of 40 mph and was moving north at 7 mph. The center of Karen was located 75 miles west-southwest of St. Croix, or 85 miles south of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Karen Track. Karen will remain a weak system as it continues to move northward today, turning more north-northeast tonight into Wednesday. This track would have the center of Karen pass near or over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday, with rain and wind impacts to the region expected to last into Wednesday. As we go into tonight and Wednesday the center of the storm will move into the western Atlantic, and some slow and gradual strengthening is possible into the weekend. There is uncertainty with Karen as we go into the weekend and next week, and what happens will greatly depend on how strong the system is by that point. A stronger system would likely turn west, meanwhile a weaker storm could continue to drift northeastward or dissipate completely. While the NHC is currently leaning toward the stronger solution, this will be something to monitor over the next several days.

Tropical Storm Warnings. Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico (including Vieques and Culebra) and both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, with impacts expected across the islands today into Wednesday.

Rain Impacts. Karen is expected to bring 2-4” of rain, with isolated 8” amounts, to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands through Wednesday. This could lead to flash flooding and mudslides, especially in mountainous areas. Due to the heavy rain potential from Karen, Flash Flood Watches are in place through Wednesday afternoon for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Wind Impacts. The strongest winds are expected across eastern Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where wind gusts of 40-55 mph will be possible over the next day or so. These stronger winds could cause some damage and power outages.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Imelda’s Immense Rain is Now 7 Times More Likely Than Just 30 Years Ago. CBS News has a story with some perspective; here’s a clip: “…CBS News reached out to Emanuel about the probability of an event the magnitude of Imelda occurring along the Texas East Coast. Emanuel estimates “that for the region affected, this would have been about a once in 700-year event in the late 20th century but has increased to about a 1 in 100-year event today.” What that translates to is a 7-fold increase in the likelihood of an event like Imelda happening in just a few decades. The science on this is rather simple: The atmosphere has warmed around 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s. For every 2 degrees of temperature rise, the atmosphere holds 8% more moisture and thus squeezes out more heavy rain...”

Imelda, Florence, Harvey: Bigger Rains and Bigger Floods. The National Resources Defense Council has a timely post; here’s a clip: “…In addition, the costs of recovery are not just borne by flood survivors but extend to taxpayers, too. Before Imelda struck, Texas had suffered 52 flood-related major disaster declarations since 1978. In just the last 20 years, Texas received over $5.5 billion dollars in Public Assistance Grants to assist in recovery—$2.2 billion of which has been spent to rebuild and repair public infrastructure, which is likely to increase as FEMA continues to provide money for Hurricane Harvey recovery.  And that’s just Texas. Nationwide, the federal government has distributed $89 billion in Public Assistance Grants in response to flood-related disasters. The nation’s ability to prepare for and adapt to such disasters must change...”

CU Study: Men, Women Handle Disasters Very Differently. It would appear that women have more common sense, something men have suspected for eons. CBS Denver reports: “Results of a new study produced in part by the University of Colorado-Boulder detail distinctions in how the genders respond to natural disasters. Researchers discovered women were quicker to take shelter in advance of, or during, a disaster than men — yet men often ultimately decided the actions that were taken, sometimes to the detriment of the women or their families. “Women seemed to have a different risk perception and desire for protective action than the men in their lives, but men often determined when and what type of action families took,” wrote lead author Melissa Villarreal, a PhD student in CU’s Department of Sociology and research assistant at the Natural Hazards Center. “In some cases, this put women and their families in greater danger...”

The Problem With Switching to Electric Cars. There is no panacea, but going on a carbon diet will require new ways to think about both transportation and development, argues a piece at CityLab: “…Electric vehicles could have an important role to play in this transition. While Minneapolis famously undid its restrictive single-family zoning laws in a bid to boost residential density, it is also teaming up with St. Paul to launch the first municipally owned electric car-sharing system in the Twin Cities, one designed to complement transit and lure commuters out of their cars. “We really think car-sharing will shed single-occupant, self-owned cars and postpone the buying of an individual vehicle,” says Will Schroeer, the executive director of East Metro Strong, a transit advocacy group in the Twin Cities. “One shared vehicle takes about eight to 11 private cars off the road...”

Photo credit: “Electric vehicles remains a tiny sliver of the overal U.S. vehicle fleet. But even mass EV adoption is no magic fix for transportation-related carbon emissions.Richard Vogel/AP.

Amazon Deal with Michigan Startup Rivian is Biggest EV Order Ever. The Detroit News reports: “Plymouth-based electric vehicle startup company Rivian Automotive has an agreement to fill the largest order of fully electric vehicles in automotive history. The startup is to build 100,000 electric vans for e-commerce giant Inc. over the next decade, Rivian said Thursday. The first batch of vans is expected to hit U.S. roadways by 2021, with 10,000 on the road by late 2022, said Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast. All 100,000 are to be operating in Amazon’s fleet by 2030...”

Photo credit: “Amazon announced the order of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles, with vans starting to deliver packages to customers in 2021.” (Photo: Business Wire).

Tesla May Soon Have a Battery That Can Last a Million Miles. A story at almost made me fall off the couch: “Last April, Elon Musk promised that Tesla would soon be able to power its electric cars for more than 1 million miles over the course of their lifespan. At the time, the claim seemed a bit much. That’s more than double the mileage Tesla owners can expect to get out of their car’s current battery packs, which are already well beyond the operational range of most other EV batteries. It just didn’t seem real—except now it appears that it is. Earlier this month, a group of battery researchers at Dalhousie University, which has an exclusive agreement with Tesla, published a paper in The Journal of the Electrochemical Society describing a lithium-ion battery that “should be able to power an electric vehicle for over 1 million miles” while losing less than 10 percent of its energy capacity during its lifetime…”

Photo credit: Wade Vandervort/AP.

iPhone 11: The Battery Life We’ve Been Dying For. So says a reporter at The Wall Street Journal (paywall). Here’s the intro: “One day, I’ll tell my grandchildren of a time before the iPhone 11. I’ll regale them with stories of portable chargers the size of cinder blocks strapped to the backs of our phones. I’ll tell them how we scoured walls in search of power outlets. I’ll describe the panic that set in when the red empty-battery icon dipped below 5%. In the scheme of iPhone upgrade history, the new iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max sure seem boring. Same designs…but new colors! Cameras…but three of them! Glass…but stronger?! After a week of testing, I can tell you that’s mostly just smoke-and-mirrors marketing, except for one thing many of us have wanted all along: phones that are a bit heavier and thicker—but work when we damn well need them to. Yes, longer battery life...”

Image credit: “From night shooting mode to ultra-wide lenses, Apple’s latest iPhones have a bunch of new camera tricks. WSJ’s Joanna Stern, with the help from the queen and some jousters, put all the new phones to the test at the New York Renaissance Faire.” Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann / The Wall Street Journal.

College Student Works 32 Straight Hours During Texas “Imelda” Flooding. Here’s what makes America great, courtesy of WGN-TV: “When Satchel Smith’s father dropped him off for his shift at Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, he expected the day to be like any other: He’d start at 3 p.m. and leave around 11 p.m. that night. That was until Tropical Storm-turned-Depression Imelda unleashed torrential flooding that trapped him and 90 other guests inside the hotel. For 32 hours, beginning Wednesday afternoon, the 21-year-old was the hotel’s only employee. But to the guests who relied on him for nearly two days, he’s a hero. Angela Chandler, a hotel guest, praised Smith’s composure in a post on Facebook, where it’s been shared more than 13,000 times. While flooded roads kept his co-workers from getting to work, she wrote, Smith served guests alone…”

Score One for the Walruses. Business Insider reports: “In a kind of odd man-versus-nature moment, a Russian navy boat was attacked and sunk by a walrus during an expedition in the Arctic, the Barents Observer reported Monday.  The Altai, a tugboat of the Russian navy’s Northern Fleet, sailed to the Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Arctic carrying researchers from the Russian Geographical Society.  “The polar latitudes are fraught with many dangers,” the research group posted in a recent press update…”

Photo credit: “The Altai sitting offshore as a landing craft appears to move in. Russian Ministry of Defense.

81 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

68 F. average high on September 25.

76 F. high on September 25, 2018.

September 25, 1998: A wind gust to 78 mph is reported at Staples Municipal Airport, just to the north of Staples in Wadena County. In Todd County, trees are blown down in the city of Staples. Buildings are damaged at a farmstead on the northwest edge of the city. A roof is torn off of Stern Rubber Company, and rooftop heating and cooling units are ripped off McKechnie Tool and Engineering. In Mille Lacs County, 3 inch hail is reported, damaging many automobiles.

September 25, 1929: Willmar experiences a deluge that produces 5.22 inches of rain in 24 hours.

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, breezy and cooler. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 68

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 49. High: 67

FRIDAY: Showers taper, slow PM clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 57. High: 64

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, rain at night. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 46. High: 62

SUNDAY: Showers and heavy T-storms. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 50. High: 67

MONDAY: Warm sunshine, T-storms possible late. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 63. High: 82

TUESDAY: Periods of rain, cooling off. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 65. High: 75

Climate Stories….

‘How Dare You?’: Climate Nexus has headlines and URLs: “Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg made an impassioned speech at the UN Monday where she raged at world leaders for not doing enough on climate change. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction,” Thunberg said with tears in her eyes. “And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?” Thunberg and 15 other young people from 12 different nations filed a joint complaint Monday alleging that Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey have failed to uphold their commitments under the treaty Convention on the Rights of the Child by not acting on climate change. Thunberg’s speech came at the start of the UN’s Climate Action Summit Monday, which wrapped with mixed results: 77 countries committed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and 70 countries announced they would strengthen their climate targets, but major powers like the United States, China, and India failed to make significant new commitments.” (Speech: Buzzfeed, The Nation, NPRWashington Post $, The Guardian, WSJ $, ReutersAxios, LA Times $. Complaint: CNN, Reuters. UN roundup: New York Times $, APWashington Post $, BBC, Reuters, InsideClimate NewsAxios, Vox)

Why Greta Makes Adults Uncomfortable. Analysis from The Atlantic: “…And when Thunberg talks about this, especially in private, she sounds a lot like … a teenager. “We are not the ones who are responsible for this, but we are the ones who have to live with these consequences, and that is so incredibly unfair,” she said at one point. And this is the way to understand Thunberg that paints her as neither a saint nor a demon but that still captures her appeal. Thunberg epitomizes, in a person, the unique moral position of being a teenager. She can see the world through an “adult” moral lens, and so she knows that the world is a heartbreakingly flawed place. But unlike an actual adult, she bears almost no conscious blame for this dismal state. Thunberg seems to gesture at this when referring to herself as a “child,” which she does often in speeches…”

Photo credit:Greta Thunberg delivers remarks at the UN Climate Summit.” Carlo Allegri / Reuters.

Teen Girls Are Leading Climate Strikes and Changing the Face of Environmentalism. The Washington Post has an explainer: “Something different is happening here,” the University of Maryland sociologist said. “We have a new wave of contention in society that’s being led by women. … And the youth climate movement is leading this generational shift.” In a survey of more than 100 U.S. organizers of the climate strike and nearly 200 participants in the Washington event, Fisher found that 68 percent of organizers and 58 percent of participants identified as female. People of color made up at least 33 percent of the protesters in Washington — a proportion that almost matches the racial demographics of the United States…”

Photo credit: “About 100 students from Blair High and Northwood Middle schools rallied outside the Silver Spring Metro station in Maryland on Friday to kick off the climate strike.” (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post).

Scared Central Banks Face Up to Threats from Climate Change. Bloomberg explains: “…Then there’s the risk of economic shocks caused by effects of extreme weather, whether in the direct damage they cause or their impacts on production. Climate change also threatens increased migration prompted by rising sea levels, droughts and land degradation — a phenomenon that JPMorgan Chase & Co warns could lead to “brain drain” and hurt developing economies. Mortgages for homes built on flood-prone lands, or bonds for companies reliant on fossil fuel-intensive business, could pose a threat if their riskiness isn’t quantified and mitigated. And insurance, a crucial node of the finance system, might find its viability undermined by climate change…”

Tracking Warming Oceans. Climate Central looks at where additional greenhouse gas warming is going: “In recent decades, more than 90% of the excess heat and 25% of human-caused CO2 emissions have gone into the ocean. This has limited the severity of global warming on land, but with major consequences that affect humans and ecosystems alike. The warming waters are devastating coral reefs, and leading to oxygen depletion with dead zones that inhibit marine life. Dissolved CO2 also leads to an increase in ocean acidity, which has surged by 30% over the past 250 years—with significant impacts on many species. And rising sea levels are already an urgent concern, flooding coastal communities around the world. Drastically cutting our greenhouse gas emissions—as emphasized in last year’s IPCC report—would lessen these impacts…”

In South Florida, Signs of the Climate Refugee Crisis To Come. Huffington Post reports; here’s an excerpt: “…Dorian came to break up families,” Lewis said. “My mom, this is her first grandchild. We’re supposed to be together. She’s supposed to be there helping me … It’s like we got to go and fight for our life now.” Dorian was a slow-motion train wreck that human-caused climate change supercharged. Above-average ocean temperatures fueled the storm as it crept through the Bahamas at a sluggish 1 mph. And like hurricanes Harvey and Florence, Dorian offers a glimpse at the future of hurricanes in a rapidly warming world. Research shows there’s been a marked slowdown in the speed of hurricanes over both water and land, which increases the risk of heavy rain, flooding and storm surge...”

Photo credit: “A boy dribbles a ball through debris caused by Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama Sept. 21, 2019.” .

Here’s the Best Place to Move If You’re Worried About Climate Change. A post at fivethirtyeight caught my eye: “…There are a couple of areas, in the short run, that actually improve,” said David Albouy, professor of economics at the University of Illinois. In 2016, he published a paper that compared the places Americans currently prefer to live with the predicted environmental change under global warming. In doing so, he produced maps of how quality of life might change in various parts of the country. “It’s still a generation away,” he said. But according to his estimates, Northern Minnesota, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan could all end up with more moderate temperatures and weather patterns than they currently have. His maps, which include upstate New York and much of New England among the regions improved by climate change, somewhat align with estimates of the safest places to live made by mapping disaster risk alone...”

Image credit: Popular Science.

Minnesota’s Climate is Already Changing. So says the Minnesota DNR; here’s an excerpt: “...Minnesota’s climate is becoming warmer and wetter, and the Department of Natural Resources is taking action to identify climate-related changes, understand the impacts of these changes on the state’s natural resources and recreation, mitigate the impacts as much as possible, and adapt to those impacts that cannot be avoided. These actions range from measuring changes to alerting Minnesotans to the effects of climate change, to planting tree species that will survive better in a warmer climate, to installing renewable energy options, like solar panels, at state parks and DNR buildings…”

Climate Change: Impacts “Accelerating” as Leaders Gather for UN Talks. Here’s a clip from BBC News: “The signs and impacts of global warming are speeding up, the latest science on climate change, published ahead of key UN talks in New York, says. The data, compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), says the five-year period from 2014 to 2019 is the warmest on record. Sea-level rise has accelerated significantly over the same period, as CO2 emissions have hit new highs. The WMO says carbon-cutting efforts have to be intensified immediately. The climate statement is a pull-together of the latest science on the causes and growing impacts of unprecedented levels of warming seen in recent years. Recognising that global temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees C since 1850, the paper notes they have gone up by 0.2C between 2011 and 2015…”

How to Survive a Flooded World. Rolling Stone has some good advice; here is a snippet: “…I realize for a lot of people, you know, times are hard. But your homeowners policy doesn’t cover you from rising water. And, as we’re going to watch play out in this next flood [created by Imelda], you’re going to have large numbers of people — who were told, or said, they didn’t need flood insurance ‘cause they weren’t in the flood zone — that are going to flood. And that’s going to cause a huge financial impact to them as well as their communities. It is what’s driving the huge cost. This is your largest financial investment, for most of us. And if you don’t have flood insurance, your homeowners policy won’t pay, your mortgage won’t go away, and the FEMA assistance is limited — and it’s probably not going to cover the repairs that will be required even to make it so you can get back to your home...”

File photo: U.S. Coast Guard.

The Surprising Ally in Fighting Global Warming. Here’s a snippet from a post at Daily Beast: “…Senior U.S. military officials have, therefore, continued to identify warming as a significant threat to American national security, despite the official guidance from the White House. “When I look at climate change, it’s in the category of sources of conflict around the world and things we have to respond to,” said General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in November 2018. “Shortages of water, and those kinds of things . . . are all sources of conflict. So, it is very much something that we take into account in our planning as we anticipate when, where and how we may be engaged in the future and what capabilities we should have...”

File image: Wikipedia.

The Rainfall in Texas is Changing and Here is Proof. Dr. Marshall Shepherd reports at Forbes: “…According to NOAA, the updated values will replace values dating back 50 years. The rainstorms of 2019 are very different than rainstorms of 1965. Peer review literature has established that the top 1-2% rainfall events are more intense than 50 years ago. Additionally, studies suggests that stalling tropical storms like Imelda and Harvey may be more common. Much of the stormwater management infrastructure in municipalities is designed for the storms of last century. According to a University of Georgia press release, Bledsoe argues for “investments in hybrid systems of traditional “gray” and natural “green” infrastructure that work together along with nonstructural measures such as insurance reform, zoning, buyout and relocation to improve outcomes across a wide range of future extreme weather scenarios...”

Map credit: “Updated rainfall values in inches that define certain extreme events, such as the 100-year storm.” NOAA.

The Climate Hunters. Reuters examines 3 scientists trying to get a handle on methane releases in the Arctic. Here’s an excerpt: “…When the United Nations hosts a summit in New York on Monday to try to shore up the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb global warming, calls to cut emissions will focus on a more familiar greenhouse gas – the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. But methane, another carbon-based compound, is emerging as a wild card in the climate-change equation. If CO2 has a warming effect akin to wrapping the planet in a sheet, the less-understood methane is more like a wool blanket. Emitted from sources such as thawing permafrost, tropical wetlands, livestock, landfills and the spidery exoskeleton of oil and gas infrastructure girdling the planet, methane has been responsible for about a quarter of manmade global warming thus far, some models calculate…”