Winter Remains On Indefinite Pause

Have you noticed that most disaster movies start out with people ignoring warnings from scientists? I have a respect for science – and faith in something more. God gave us experts.

This Thanksgiving season I’m grateful for family, friends and facts. I don’t take democracy, free speech or freedom of the press for granted.

And a special shout-out to 2020’s biggest heroes: our frontline healthcare workers. They all deserve medals, and our enduring gratitude for being steadfast on the front lines of this pandemic.

It’s late November and I’m staring out at a green lawn and unraked leaves. My driveway stakes are mocking me again.

The pattern favors big storms for the southern and eastern USA, but a dry and mild Pacific
breeze should keep blowing into Minnesota, keeping us in the 40s much of the first week of December.

Dr. Mark Seeley predicts a relatively toasty, dry start to winter, followed by colder and snowier from January on. That sounds about right to me. Lately our winters have been all or nothing, and this one may be no exception.

Enjoy our ration of sunshine – and upper 40s on Saturday!

Map credit above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Mellow Saturday, Then Colder Early Next Week. If it’s any consolation every cool/cold front brings a higher probability of actually seeing the sun. Saturday temperatures may run 10-15F above average before we cool down early next week, but temperatures run close to average from midweek on. Map sequence: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

40s First Week of December. Both ECMWF (above) and GFS (below) suggest temperatures running above average for much of early December, as a milder Pacific wind flow aloft dominates our pattern. I still don’t see anything particularly polar into mid-December. Graphics: WeatherBell.

Glancing Blows of Chilly Air, But Not Bad for December. Looking out roughly 2 weeks GFS continues to maintain a modifed zonal, west-to-east flow, with a milder Pacific influence for much of the west and central USA. The pattern favors storms over the Deep South and East Coast, but no big storms are brewing close to home anytime soon.

Odds of a White Thanksgiving. Data shows 1 in 5 Thanksgiving Days have measurable snow in the Twin Cities. Map credit: climate guru Brian Brettschneider.

Record-Breaking 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Draws To An End. Good riddance. NOAA has highlights and lowlights: “The extremely active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is drawing to a close with a record-breaking 30 named storms and 12 landfalling storms in the continental United States. While the official hurricane season concludes on November 30, tropical storms may continue to develop past that day. NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlooks accurately predicted a high likelihood of an above-normal season with a strong possibility of it being extremely active. In total, the 2020 season produced 30 named storms (top winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 13 became hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or greater), including six major hurricanes (top winds of 111 mph or greater). This is the most storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes on record…”

We’re Celebrating Thanksgiving During a Pandemic: How We Celebrated During 1918 Flu Pandemic. USA TODAY reports that history is, in fact, repeating itself: “More than 200,000 dead since March. Cities in lockdown. Vaccine trials underway. And a holiday message, of sorts: “See that Thanksgiving celebrations are restricted as much as possible so as to prevent another flare-up.” It isn’t the message of Thanksgiving 2020. It’s the Thanksgiving Day notice that ran in the Omaha World Herald on Nov. 28, 1918, when Americans found themselves in a similar predicament to the millions now grappling with how to celebrate the holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Every time I hear someone say these are unprecedented times, I say no, no, they’re not,” said Brittany Hutchinson, assistant curator at the Chicago History Museum. “They did this in 1918…”

Image credit: “Red Cross Women sit at long tables making influenza masks in Chicago, Illinois in 1918.” Image provided by the Chicago History Museum. Graphic by Karl Gelles, USA TODAY.

Henrik Fisker Wants to Lease You a No-Strings Electric Vehicle. A new way to lease vehicles with less down-side? Here’s an excerpt from Business Insider: “…For about $3,000 up front and $379 a month, Fisker could lease you an Ocean and you could keep it or give it back, at your discretion, while also enjoying a generous, 30,000-mile annual allowance. That monthly payment is significantly lower than the $466 average reported by Experian for 2020. Furthermore, if the vehicle has been leased and returned, another customer could lease it, but at a lower cost. Rolled into the lease is a comprehensive service agreement, and Fisker said that the company is also trying to figure how to offer insurance that fits with the overall package and to reduce the cost of repairs...”

“Jingle Bells” Was Originally Written as a Thanksgiving Song. I did not know that, but a post at Mental Floss set me straight: “…Back in 1850 or 1851, James Lord Pierpont was perhaps enjoying a little holiday cheer at the Simpson Tavern in Medford, Massachusetts, when Medford’s famous sleigh races to neighboring Malden Square inspired him to write a tune. The story goes that Pierpont picked out the song on the piano belonging to the owner of the boarding house attached to the tavern because he wanted something to play for Thanksgiving at his Sunday school class in Boston. The resulting song wasn’t just a hit with the kids; adults loved it so much that the lyrics to “One Horse Open Sleigh” were altered slightly and used for Christmas. The song was published in 1857, when Pierpont was working at a Unitarian Church in Savannah, Georgia...”

36 F. high in the Twin Cities on Thanksgiving Day.

35 F. average high on November 26.

38 F. high on November 26, 2019

November 27, 2005: In the early morning a home in Mower County is hit by lightning and burned to the ground, but no one is injured.

November 27, 1994: A low pressure system produces the first winter storm of the season for Minnesota. By the early morning hours of the 28th, a swath of snow in excess of 6 inches had blanketed much of southwest through central into northeast Minnesota. Snowfall of 6 inches or more occurred south of a line from Gunflint Lake in Cook County to near Ortonville in Big Stone County, and along and north of a line from near Blue Earth in Faribault County to Red Wing in Goodhue County. The snow closed the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for a short time on the 27th, and contributed to hundreds of accidents and at least three fatalities. In addition, the build-up of ice and snow in combination with strong winds resulted in numerous downed power lines in southeast Minnesota.

November 27, 1985: Extreme cold hits northern Minnesota. A low of 30 below zero is reported at Crookston.

November 27, 1971: Heavy snow falls in southwest Minnesota, with Redwood Falls receiving a foot.

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and cool. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 37

SATURDAY: Blue sky, above average temperatures. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 30. High: 48

SUNDAY: Cloudy, gusty and cooler. Winds: NW 15-30. Wake-up: 32. High: 37

MONDAY: Chilled sunshine. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 21. High: 29

TUESDAY: Sunny, closer to average. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 18. High: 36

WEDNESDAY: Sunny streak continues, still quiet. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 20. High: near 40

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 23. High: 37

Climate Stories…

Most People Don’t Really Understand How Climate Change Works. We are wired to experience (and appreciate) weather, not climate. Here’s an excerpt of a good explainer at Massive Science: “...Right now a mild La Niña is underway, with a 95 percent chance that it will persist through the winter of 2020. If it does, this winter is expected to be warmer and drier across the southern United States and wetter in the Pacific Northwest. La Niña is also one of the factors driving the severity of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, the most active on record, in addition to climate change. Rising temperatures are making hurricanes more powerful by increasing the speed at which they intensify over the ocean, causing a greater proportion of storms to develop into major hurricanes. Climate change is impacting all aspects of the Earth system, and scientists are only beginning to understand the cascading effects of rising global temperatures...”

Satellite Images Confirm Uneven Impact of Climate Change. EurekaAlert! ScienceNews reports: “…Using extensive imagery from satellites that monitor Earth every day, researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources Management have studied the evolution of vegetation in arid regions. Their conclusion is unequivocal: “We observe a clear trend of arid areas developing in a negative direction in the most economically challenged countries. Here, it is apparent that the growth of vegetation has become increasingly decoupled from the water resources available and that there is simply less vegetation in relation to the amount of rainfall. The opposite is the case in the wealthiest countries,” explains Professor Rasmus Fensholt of the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management…”

9 Concerning Facts About Global Extinction – And How To Stop It. Here are a few of the eye-opening stats in a post at Mental Floss: “…Here are nine reasons we too should be concerned about the future of the planet and the millions of species which call it home. 1. More than one million species are now at risk of extinction. Over a million species of animal and plant life are now threatened with dying out – more than ever before in human history, according to the International Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 2. Wildlife population sizes dropped by two thirds since 1970 There has been an average 68% drop in global population sizes of amphibians, birds, fish mammals and reptiles between 1970 and 2018, according to the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020...”

A Thanksgiving Meditation in the Face of a Changing Climate. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at the Scientific American Blog Network: “… Arguably, we don’t know how to think about climate change because we’ve never really had to think about climate. It’s always been a hum in the background, small variations around a mean that we take for granted. Now, that background note is growing louder and higher. Our climate is changing because of our actions. We can already see the impacts: changes in the range and behavior of animal species, coastal cities smashed by hurricanes and inundated by floodwaters, a haze of unseasonal wildfire smoke. Science says nothing about how to feel about these changes. I feel grief, guilt, anger, determination, hope, and sadness all at the same time. But what I feel more than anything is gratitude for what we have. We live on a medium-sized rock that goes around a garden-variety star in a galaxy that exists only because of a flaw in the smooth perfection of the early cosmos…”

Image credit: NASA, NOAA, GSFC, Suomi NPP, VIIRS and Norman Kuring.

How Biden Can Fight Climate Change Without Congress. Politico examines the possibilities; here’s an excerpt: “…The Federal Reserve, the most powerful bank regulator in Washington, isn’t waiting for Biden’s inauguration. Even as Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, the Fed quietly laid the groundwork to one day put its stamp on global regulatory standards for climate-related financial risks. This month, the Fed made a long-awaited announcement that it will seek to join the international Network for Greening the Financial System. The Fed also for the first time formally declared climate change as a potential danger to financial stability. The two steps were highly significant because the U.S. has been seen as falling behind other countries that have taken aggressive stances. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, a Trump (and Obama) appointee who will likely serve well into Biden’s first term if not longer, said officials were obligated to incorporate the risks into how they think about the economy...”

Trump Races to Weaken Environmental and Worker Protections, and Implement Other Last-Minute Policies Before January 20. Here’s a clip from a post at ProPublica: “Even as Trump and his allies officially refuse to concede the Nov. 3 election, the White House and federal agencies are hurrying to finish dozens of regulatory changes before Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. The rules range from long-simmering administration priorities to last-minute scrambles and affect everything from creature comforts like showerheads and clothes washers to life-or-death issues like federal executions and international refugees. They impact everyone from the most powerful, such as oil drillers, drugmakers and tech startups, to the most vulnerable, such as families on food stamps, transgender people in homeless shelters, migrant workers and endangered species. ProPublica is tracking those regulations as they move through the rule-making process…”

Covid-19 and Climate Change Make Hurricanes More Devastating for Latin America. reports: “After two Category 4 hurricanes this month, communities in these Central American countries have witnessed rivers overflowing from torrential rains, crops destroyed, cattle washed away, schools flooded, and roads engulfed in landslides. Death, disease and poverty will likely follow. While poor people in rural areas have been often worst-hit by the succession of Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota, the repercussions from those storms are already being felt in the halls of power. In Guatemala City this weekend, anger boiled up into the streets as protesters set fire to the Congress building, forcing legislators to reverse budget cuts to the country’s already crippled health care and education systems. Exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, the fallout from these climate disasters will continue to spread. And it may eventually even reach distant countries, as Central Americans left desperate and vulnerable by the storms flee abroad...”

Hurricane Eta file image from November 3, 2020: NOAA and AerisWeather.