Weather Entering An Unusual Holding Pattern

”Paul, what’s the jet stream up to these days?” Great question. Glad you asked. Upper level steering winds are unusually light for late September. In fact, weather models predict an odd holding pattern into early October as weather systems stall. That’s more typical in mid-July than October, by the way.

Warmer air holds more water vapor, increasing the potential for heavier downpours (exhibit A was the soggy remains of Hurricane Ida, a 1-in-1,000 year flood from Philadelphia to New York City). But it’s a 1- 2 punch of wetter systems AND lighter jet stream winds, which can cause weather to stall for extended periods of time, increasing the potential for big problems.

Warm sunshine lingers today, but an extended period of damp weather is shaping up from Friday into mid-October as light steering winds aloft keep keep us gray and showery. Not enough rain to erase the drought but I see slow progress digging out from our dry and dusty rut.

Shorts and sunglasses today but next week will feel more like a typical autumn.

Wednesday Future Radar

Warm Sunshine Again Today – Shower Opportunity Late Thursday Into Saturday. Future radar (NOAA NDFD data) shows showers and T-storms pushing across the Dakotas today, reaching far western Minnesota counties Wednesday night and Thursday. The MSP metro stands the best chance of much-needed showers Friday into Saturday.

Mercury Peaks Today – Slow Cooling Trend Into Next Week. Temperatures nearly 20F warmer than average for late September? Mid-80s are impressive, considering the sun angle is similar to mid-March. A weak cool frontal passage will pull more seasonable air back into Minnesota over the weekend with highs mostly in the 60s next week.

Relatively Benign for Mid-October. If (a big if) NOAA’s GFS 500mb forecast verifies much of America will still be warmer than average into mid-October, with the exception of the Pacific Northwest. Longer, colder nights will brew up chilly air, which will start to push south with increasing frequency and intensity the latter half of next month.

Hurricane Sam

We Are Almost Out of Hurricane Names – Again. Here is What Happens Next. Details via “It’s that time in hurricane season when meteorologists like myself like to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But the reality is that it’s not close enough yet — in fact, this year it’s not close at all. “We still have two months to go in what has been a very active season,” says National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen. “While we don’t expect to have as many named storms as we had in 2020, we’re at 19 right now with the possibility of one or two more by the end of the week.” If that’s the case, we finish up all the names in the current list and move to the subsequent list before the month begins…”

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NASA illustration

Artificial Intelligence Brings Better Hurricane Predictions. EurekAlert! has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Thankfully, forecasting models help us predict when, where, and how strongly hurricanes may strike. But such rapid intensification—Ida’s the most recent example—can elude the predictions of even the best models. Accurately predicting the brief windows in which these violent storms surge and strengthen is a lingering blind spot within the hurricane forecasting community. Now, thanks to a new model developed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, better predicting hurricane intensity in both the near future and under future climate scenarios is within reach. Using artificial intelligence techniques, the team created a model that can, on average, more accurately predict hurricane intensity relative to models used at the national level. And it can run on a commercial laptop...”

Ida: “1 in 1000 Year Flood”

NYC to Hire Private Weather Forecaster, Beef Up Warnings After Ida Flooding. Associated Press has details: “New York City is planning to hire a private weather forecaster, install more drainage features and issue earlier and more aggressive warnings to residents under a new plan to respond to heavy rainfall like the deadly deluge Hurricane Ida dropped on the city earlier this month. At least 50 people from Virginia to Connecticut , including 13 in New York City, die d this month when the remnants of Hurricane Ida inundated the Northeast. Rainwater trapped hundreds of cars on submerged waterways, deluged subway stations, and stalled trains and flooded basement apartments, turning them into deadly traps…”

A visualization of the polar jet stream.
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Storm-Steering Jet Stream Could Shift Poleward in 40 Years. You can make a credible case that this long-anticipated northward shift has already begun. Here’s an excerpt from Scientific American: “The North Atlantic jet stream, a fast-moving air current circling the Northern Hemisphere, may migrate northward in the coming decades if strong global warming continues. The consequences could be dramatic: shifts in rainfall patterns across the mid-latitudes and an increase in droughts, heat waves, floods and other extreme weather events in Europe and the eastern U.S. A new study finds that the jet stream could shift outside the bounds of its historic range within just a few decades — by the year 2060 or so — under a strong warming scenario. The findings were published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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..”.

Summer of 2021 on Pelican Lake
Paul Douglas

Wildfire Smoke Rising Nationwide, Causing Major Health Problems: Climate Nexus has more perspective, headlines and links: “Across the country, people are breathing in more harmful smoke than before due to climate change-driven wildfires, threatening their health, an InsideClimateNews investigation based on an analysis of federal satellite imagery found. Looking at more than ten years of data analyzed down to the zip code level by NPR’s California Newsroom and Stanford University’s Environmental Change and Human Outcomes Lab, the analysis found that the number of days people are exposed to wildfire smoke has increased significantly, particularly since 2016. In parts of California, people are exposed to wildfire smoke for an average of three months a year, and the state has seen a major increase in health problems related to that smoke. Looking at 2018, a particularly bad year for fires, records show there were an additional 30,000 hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiac conditions and a major spike in prescriptions for the asthma medication albuterol. But the impacts are not limited to California; the analysis found a significant increase in Denver, Salt Lake City, rural Kentucky, West Virginia, Philadelphia and Washington. Climate change is driving this trend by increasing the size, frequency, and intensity of fires. This smoke is threatening gains made to reduce air pollution in the western region, particularly in regard to the dangerous pollutant PM2.5, which is small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs. From 2000 – 2010, PM2.5 level in California, Nevada, and the Pacific Northwest had dropped significantly, but by 2020, those levels were the same or worse than they were in 2000. As with most environmental impacts, the effects are not felt equally. Older adults and especially those from low-income communities of color are disproportionately impacted due to other underlying health issues and housing that does little to protect residents from the smoke. “Literally no amount of exposure is safe,” said Stanford University professor Marshall Burke. “The lesson is that any amount is bad. And the more you get the worse it is.” (Story: InsideClimateNews; Data: InsideClimateNews; Midwest: KCUR; Climate Signals background: Wildfires)

Minnesota DNR

Low Lake Levels Up North. Getting your boat or pontoon off the dock may be non-trivial in the days ahead, with the lowest lake water levels over central and northern Minnesota. Here’s an excerpt of an update from The Minnesota DNR: “…Seven of the ten reporting lakes increased from the previous week, from 0.12 to 2.4 inches. Three of the ten reporting lakes decreased from the previous week, from 0.36 to 1.68 inches. Three of the ten lakes remain in the low range. One of the ten lakes is in the below normal range. Six of the ten lakes are in the normal range. The DNR LakeFinder non-mobile website provides available lake level elevations for individual lakes. Search by county, the lake’s name or eight-digit identification number for your lake, and then click on the Water Levels report. The Lake Water Level report page contains all available lake levels, highest and lowest lake levels, and a 10-year graph. All the reported historic and current lake elevations can be downloaded for viewing or copied to a spreadsheet for graphing and other functions…”

Ford and Partners Investing $11 Billion in New Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Plants. has details: “Ford Motor Co. and South Korea-based energy company SK Innovations are investing $11.4 billion to build two new enormous manufacturing campuses for electric vehicles, creating more than 10,000 new jobs and representing Ford’s largest-ever single manufacturing investment in the company’s 118-year history. Ford’s share of the investment will be $7 billion, Ford executives said. Ford previously announced it will spend $30 billion by 2025 on its shift to building more electric vehicles and that it expects 40% of its sales, worldwide, to be fully electric vehicles by 2030...”

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Could the Moon Actually Crash Toward Earth? (paywall) has a wonky, but ultimately reassuring explainer that confirms this scenario should be at the bottom of your worry list: “There’s a trailer out for a new science fiction film called Moonfall, to be released in early 2022, in which the moon is about to crash into Earth. It features several shots of a reddish moon hovering extremely close to the planet, crumbling apart while sucking the oceans toward it, the debris flying into spacecraft and mountains. It doesn’t actually show a collision—you know, it’s just a trailer and they don’t want to spoil everything. This isn’t the first movie to stretch the bounds of believable physics. (Remember Sharknado?) But just because it’s science fiction doesn’t mean it’s totally wrong. That’s why I’m here: I’m going to go over the actual physics that would apply if the moon ever got too close to us…”

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…”

82 F. Twin Cities high on Tuesday.

68 F. average high on September 28.

58 F. MSP high on September 28, 2020.

September 29, 1876: An abnormally cool day occurs, with a high of 45 in the Twin Cities (normally the high should be 65 this time of year).

Paul Douglas

WEDNESDAY: Sunny, August-like. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 85

THURSDAY: Some sun, late T-showers western MN. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

FRIDAY: Showers likely, possible thunder. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 60. High: 71

SATURDAY: Skies brighten, passing shower. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 57. High: 69

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, damp. Stray shower. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 56. High: 68

MONDAY: Holding pattern. A few showers. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 57. High: 65

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy and cool. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 54. High: 61

Climate Stories….

Mitigating the Effects of Extreme Rainfall Events in a Changing Climate. has a summary of new research; here’s a clip: “…Record breaking rainfall extremes in general and short duration rainfall events in particular are increasing in frequency in a warming climate as the rate of evaporation and the atmosphere’s capacity to hold water both increase. Physically, these relationships are well understood and an increase in regional rainfall extremes can be found in observations globally and at a local scale leading to an increase in flood damages within the historic datasets and under future high emission projections. To express the Germany flooding event from a climate change perspective, the rapid attribution study from the World Weather Attribution Project found that the event was made 1.9 to nine times more likely by climate change. In addition to thermodynamic factors that increase the likelihood of record-breaking rainfall extremes, atmospheric dynamics often contribute in making an extreme weather event more severe…”

Accounting for all the energy that enters and leaves the Earth system helps scientists understand why the planet is warming. This accounting of energy is known as Earth’s energy budget.NOAA NCEI

In Hot Water: Ocean Heat and Our Warming World. We often fixate on air temperatures when heat content in the world’s oceans may be responsible for many of the changes we’re witnessing in day to day weather. NOAA NCEI explains: “The global ocean is heating up, with far-reaching consequences. As the planet has warmed, the ocean has provided a critical buffer, slowing the effects of climate change by absorbing more than 90 percent of the excess heat in the Earth’s system. Because the ocean plays such a critical role in our climate system, it is an important research topic for climate scientists. Subsurface ocean temperatures are a consistent way to track the effects of greenhouse gas emissions because they are only faintly influenced by short-term weather patterns...”

Aletsch Glacier and others in the Swiss Alps are feeling the heat.Tobias Alt, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

12 Disappearing Glaciers Around the World. Mental Floss runs down the list: “Earth’s glaciers—mountainous masses of moving ice—cover an estimated 10 percent of the planet and store nearly 70 percent of the world’s fresh water. But these frozen giants, which exist on every continent except Australia, are facing extinction. Thanks in part to global warming, roughly 28 trillion tons of ice has vanished since the mid-1990s, and 1.2 trillion tons now disappear each year. Here are a few “rivers of ice” from around the world retreating at a rapid rate...”

Apollo 11 “Earthrise” fileNASA

Climate Change Making Earth’s Crust Shift in Weird, New Ways. People ask me if climate change may be sparking more quakes, and I hadn’t seen any possible connection with tremors until reading a Gizmodo post: “Both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets—the world’s two largest bodies of ice—are melting at an alarming rate, causing major problems for local ecosystems and coastal communities alike. Now, in yet more evidence that the climate crisis is changing everything in bizarre and profound ways, new research suggests that the meltdown is warping the Earth’s crust. The new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last month, analyzes satellite data of ice melt from 2003 to 2018. The authors paired this data with a model showing how changes in ice mass affect the crust. The model showed that much of the northern hemisphere moved horizontally because of melting ice in Greenland and the Arctic...”

Bill Ingalls – NASA

Landsat Launches Powerful Landsat 9 Satellite to Monitor Climate Change, Forest Cover and More. reports on a new tool to monitor the rapid changes we see all around us: “NASA’s newest Earth-observing satellite has made it to space. The spacecraft, called Landsat 9, will help extend the 50-year continuous record of global imagery collected by the Landsat family of satellites since 1972. Perched atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, Landsat 9 blasted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California right on time at 2:12 p.m. EDT (11:12 local time and 1812 GMT) today (Sept. 27), marking the installation’s 2,000th launch since 1958. The spacecraft separated from its rocket ride as planned, about 80 minutes after liftoff...”

Entrance to the campus of the University of Minnesota.Star Tribune

Under Student Pressure, University of Minnesota to Phase Out Fossil Fuel Investments. The Star Tribune reports: “The University of Minnesota plans to withdraw all of its investments in fossil fuel-related companies over the next five to seven years amid pressure from students who want the school to do more to fight climate change. The U shared details about its intention to move away from fossil fuel investments this week after student government leaders at the Twin Cities campus renewed demands for the state’s flagship university to divest from coal, oil and natural gas. “Students and community members have been pushing for this for so many years at this point,” said senior Maddie Miller, environmental accountability committee director for the Minnesota Student Association, the U’s undergraduate student government. “This is just one really small step in the grand scheme of things...”

Inside Climate News

Today’s Kids Will Live Through Three Times as Many Climate Disasters as Their Grandparents, Study Says. The Washington Post (paywall) has details: “Adriana Bottino-Poage is 6 years old, with cherub cheeks and curls that bounce when she laughs. She likes soccer, art and visiting the library. She dreams of being a scientist and inventing a robot that can pull pollution out of the air. She wants to become the kind of grown-up who can help the world. Yet human actions have made the world a far more dangerous place for Adriana to grow up, according to a first-of-its-kind study of the impacts of climate change across generations. If the planet continues to warm on its current trajectory, the average 6-year-old will live through roughly three times as many climate disasters as their grandparents, the study finds. They will see twice as many wildfires, 1.7 times as many tropical cyclones, 3.4 times more river floods, 2.5 times more crop failures and 2.3 times as many droughts as someone born in 1960...”

Climate Change is the New Dot-Com Bubble. has an interesting Op-Ed; here’s a clip: “…I assume that the money will come. There are too many hot days for it not to. And obviously I want things to go differently this time. But I don’t know how you bootstrap a globe-spanning bureaucracy yesterday. I can’t even tell you what infrastructure we need, just that in general infrastructure evolves, slowly, in response to tragedy. Worse, if my déjà vu is accurate and history repeats itself—if the internet was the last big thing, and climate is the next big thing (or the last big thing)—then we aren’t at the precipice of a new era. We’re at the beginning of a bubble. The trillions in investment have to go somewhere. By the time all the money is spent, the companies in my ebook will probably be gone, save for a few dozen. Rolled up, evaporated. And then what? It’s not like we can just wait for the market to recover and see what happens...”

Scott Kelly, NASA ISS

Ecoside: Should Destruction of the Planet Be a Crime? Inside Climate News has the post; here’s the intro: “At many moments in history, humanity’s propensity for wanton destruction has demanded legal and moral restraint. One of those times, seared into modern consciousness, came at the close of World War II, when Soviet and Allied forces liberated the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Dachau. Photographs and newsreels shocked the conscience of the world. Never had so many witnessed evidence of a crime so heinous, and so without precedent, that a new word—genocide—was needed to describe it, and in short order, a new framework of international justice was erected to outlaw it. Another crime of similar magnitude is now at large in the world. It is not as conspicuous and repugnant as a death camp, but its power of mass destruction, if left unchecked, would strike the lives of hundreds of millions of people. A movement to outlaw it, too, is gaining momentum. That crime is called ecocide...”