Waving Goodbye To A Super-Sized September

Welcome to September 59th. We’ve enjoyed an extra-long autumn this year with a surplus of sunny, postcard-perfect days. A far cry from October 2020, when highs were stuck in the 30s. Last year at this time we had already picked up 9.3 inches of snow in the metro. So yes, we’ve been let off easy this year, with a 6-month boating season.

Reality will catch up to us next week as chilly air swirls south, treating us to highs in the 30s and 40s. Sudden jabs of arctic air often spin up big storms (a certain blizzard in 1991 comes to mind) but I do not see that scenario playing out anytime soon. Many of us will spot our first flurries of the season by midweek, and with nighttime lows dipping into the 20s I could see a dusting or coating of white for some towns, especially downwind of the Great Lakes (ie. “Lake Effect” snow bands. Whatever falls will melt; weather models pull 50s into Minnesota the second week of November – GFS guidance has us near 60F. Low confidence on that.

In the meantime our soaking is over, skies clear today and the mercury reaches upper 50s Saturday.

6-10 Day Temperature Anomalies

US Drought Monitor

Drought Continues to Ease. I suspect the latest soaking rain isn’t reflected in the numbers above from the US Drought Monitor. There has been more easing of drought conditions across the state – we are moving in the right direction.

Friday Future Clouds/Precipitation

Slow Clearing Today. Morning clouds should give way to peeks of sunshine today with highs in the low to mid 50s; a few degrees above average.

Fine Saturday – Quiet Halloween – First Extended Freeze and Flakes Next Week? Soak up a very nice Saturday because gusty winds on Halloween herald the arrival of colder air. There’s little doubt that next week will actually feel like November with an extended streak of nights in the 20s and (probably) the first snow flurries of the season by midweek.

Looking Colder and Stormier. Considering the sun angle is equivalent to mid-February I can’t say I’m surprised, but the sunny, lukewarm honeymoon appears to be drawing to a close. GFS guidance hints at a stormier pattern for much of the USA within 2 weeks as cold air pushes inexorably southward, setting the stage for a better chance of real cold fronts (and both rain and snow).

Duluth National Weather Service

Meteorological Set-Up for 1991 Halloween Blizzard. The Duluth office of the National Weather Service has an excellent recap of the jaw-dropping storm that shut down much of the state (and humbled many a meteorologist): “…The “Halloween Blizzard” was made possible by a strong Arctic cold front that surged south through the central United States several days prior. On October 28, 1991, temperatures in advance of the cold front were quite pleasant as high temperatures reached into the 70s from the Mid Mississippi River Valley south into North Texas, and into the 80s across much of central and southern Texas. Meanwhile, high temperatures did not crack 20 degrees across most of Montana and Wyoming. The contrast between the two air masses was stark, and by the morning of October 29th, the cold front was already about halfway through Texas. At 6 AM CST, the temperature in Amarillo, TX had plummeted to 22 degrees with a stiff northerly breeze. Abilene, TX was reporting a temperature of 40, while Dallas came in at 64 – a 24 degree difference over about 180 miles. Meanwhile, morning lows were much more frigid to the north – in the single digits across Montana and Wyoming, and in the teens (with snow) in the Dakotas…”

1991 Halloween Blizzard Snow Totals
Twin Cities National Weather Service

30th Anniversary of Halloween Blizzard. Where were you when this monster-storm stalled out over Minnesota, prolonging snowfall for 2 days with 2-5 foot drifts? The Minnesota DNR has a great summary; here’s an excerpt: “…By November 2nd, the snow was winding down, but the storm’s fierce winds ushered in a reinforcing push of cold air, forcing temperatures to fall into and through the teens across much of the state during the day. Cold air kept filtering in the proceeding days, with a low of -3 F at the Twin Cities Airport on November 4, the earliest below-zero low on record, back to 1872. Duluth wound up with 36.9 inches of snow from this storm, establishing a record as the largest single snowstorm total for Minnesota, until 46.5 inches fell from January 6-8, 1994 near Finland in Cook County. The storm total in the Twin Cities (at MSP) was 28.4 inches, establishing a single-storm snowfall record for that station. Other final accumulations in Minnesota, many of which set storm-total records, included: 36 inches at Two Harbors; 32 inches at Brimson; 30 inches at Gunflint Lake and Eveleth; 25 inches at Lutsen, Cambridge, and Chaska; 21.8 inches at Hibbing; 20 inches at Young America, Litchfield, and Waseca; 17.4 inches at St. John’s in Collegeville; and 17.3 inches at International Falls…”

MN State Climatology Office

1991 Halloween Blizzard Records. It’s a long list, and no, this extreme weather event will not be forgotten anytime soon. Why so much snow? A storm stalled off the coast of New England (the “Perfect Storm”) documented in Sebastian Junger’s book and subsequent movie. Because that storm stalled, the storm over Minnesota stalled – weather systems were in a holding pattern. Weather models (and meteorologists) were caught flat-footed by this development, which helped to produce record snowfall amounts and a premature blast of bitter, January-like air that dropped temperatures below zero in the wake of the storm. I’ve been in therapy ever since…


File image

More Than 12 Million Global Deaths Are Associated with Environmental Risks Every Year. CNN.com reports: “More than 12 million deaths all over the world are associated with environmental risk factors every year, said Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa. At PAHO’s weekly press briefing on Wednesday, Barbosa highlighted how environment and health are intertwined, ahead of the UN climate summit, COP26. The UN Environment Programme reported this week that while countries have promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions, there’s still a huge gap between those promises and what’s needed to avoid the worse consequences of the climate crisis. “The health of our planet and the health of our people are interlinked,” Barbosa said, adding that high temperatures and air pollution have led to a rise in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases…”

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Longer, More Frequent Outages Afflict the U.S. Power Grid as States Fail to Prepare for Climate Change. The Washington Post (paywall) reports; here’s an excerpt: “…As storms grow fiercer and more frequent, environmental groups are pushing states to completely reimagine the electrical grid, incorporating more batteries, renewable energy sources and localized systems known as “microgrids,” which they say could reduce the incidence of wide-scale outages. Utility companies have proposed their own storm-proofing measures, including burying power lines underground. But state regulators largely have rejected these ideas, citing pressure to keep energy rates affordable. Of $15.7 billion in grid improvements under consideration last year, regulators approved only $3.4 billion, according to a national survey by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center — about one-fifth…”


Pop-Tarts Lawsuit Claims Lack of Strawberry Filling. Because the world needs more billable hours. Mental Floss explains: “Ever since being introduced nationally in 1964, Kellogg’s fruit-flavored Pop-Tarts have been the breakfast of choice for people who want a pastry popping out of their toaster before they head to work or school. But not everyone holds this piping-hot concoction in high regard. As Food & Wine reports, a woman is suing Kellogg’s for what she says is a misrepresentation of the amount of actual strawberry in the Tarts. The lawsuit [PDF], which was filed in New York, alleges that Kellogg’s is misrepresenting the volume of fruit filling in their Whole Grain Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts…”

In a video grab from Japanese startup A.L.I. Technologies, the “XTurismo Limited Edition” hoverbike is pictured during its demonstration at Fuji Speedway in Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, October 26, 2021.
A.L.I. Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

Japan Startup Targets Supercar Users with $700,000 Hoverbike. This might be an impulse buy – I’ll wait for costs to come down. Reuters reports: “A Japanese startup backed by soccer player Keisuke Honda hopes to persuade wealthy consumers to swap their supercar for a 77.7 million yen ($680,000) hoverbike which went on sale on Tuesday. The “XTurismo Limited Edition” from Tokyo-based drone startup A.L.I. Technologies is equipped with a conventional engine and four battery-powered motors and promises to fly for 40 minutes at up to 100 kph (62 mph). “Until now the choice has been to move on the ground or at scale in the sky. We hope to offer a new method of movement,” Chief Executive Daisuke Katano told Reuters. The black and red hoverbike consists of a motorcycle-like body on top of propellers. The machine rests on landing skids when stationary…”

.5” rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

49 F. Twin Cities high on Thursday.

52 F. average high on October 27.

50 F. MSP high on October 27, 2020.

October 28, 1960: A 29-day dry stretch in west central Minnesota ends.

FRIDAY: Slow clearing. Winds: N 10-20. High: 53

SATURDAY: Sunny, milder than average. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 38. High: 58

HALLOWEEN: Not scary. Partly sunny and windy. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 39. High: 47

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy and chilly. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 33. High: 42

TUESDAY: Brisk, few sprinkles or flurries. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: near 40

WEDNESDAY: Heavier jackets. Few flakes. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 38

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and chilly. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 25. High: 37

Climate Stories…


White House Sets Climate Spending at Up to $555 Billion. Politico.com has the very latest: “The White House has told allies in Congress that climate change programs in Democrats’ spending bill will range between $500 billion and $555 billion, according to four sources familiar with the negotiations. While the package will exclude Democrats’ proposed system of payments and penalties to push power companies to increase renewable energy, the plan being developed will allow President Joe Biden to head to the global climate talks next week in Glasgow, Scotland with a framework for the largest-ever U.S. investment in fighting climate change. “We continue to engage with Congress on this incredibly important topic and see the ball move forward. We feel that the conversations have been accelerating in the right direction,” a senior administration official said in a Tuesday call with reporters that did not discuss the topline climate figures...”

Climate Central

Climate Change Magnified Recent California Deluge. Scientific American connects the dots: “A record-breaking storm that swept through California in recent days was made worse by climate change, experts say. And not just because of additional rainfall that’s a symptom of a warmer climate. Adding to the misery was what preceded the deluge: months of dry conditions and devastating wildfires. That seesaw in weather conditions—from bone dry to sopping wet—is a taste of what’s to come as the Earth heats up, scientists say. The volatility carries an additional danger. The storm triggered several rock slides and mudflows when sheets of rain hit parts of California that had been stripped bare by repeated wildfires. “The record-setting precipitation in Northern California follows near-record dry conditions,” said Alex Hall, director of the Center for Climate Science at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment & Sustainability. “It is an example of the type of increasing variability in precipitation, and swings between dry and wet, that we expect with a warming climate...”

Illustration: Sarah Grillo, Axios

Oil Chiefs Set to Testify at Landmark Congressional Hearing. AP News has the story; here’s the intro: “Top executives at ExxonMobil and other oil giants are set to testify at a landmark House hearing Thursday as congressional Democrats investigate what they describe as a decades-long, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming. Top officials at four major oil companies are testifying before the House Oversight Committee, along with leaders of the industry’s top lobbying group and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Company officials were expected to renew their commitment to fighting climate change. The much-anticipated hearing comes after months of public efforts by Democrats to obtain documents and other information on the oil industry’s role in stopping climate action over multiple decades…”

Oil Industry Leaders Look To Big Tobacco For Clues To Avoid Perjury Before Congress: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Big Oil CEOs will testify before Congress today on their firms’ and trade associations’ decades of public deception on the science of climate change, but they’re nothing if not prepared. The heads of ExxonMobil, BP America, Chevron, Shell Oil, the American Petroleum Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have prepped for their sworn testimony by studying how tobacco industry leaders landed themselves under federal investigation for perjury, E&E News reports. The oil industry has known for decades that the combustion of its product was causing climate change and its deception has repeatedly stymied U.S. climate policy. “The evidence is so incontrovertible that they’re going to really have a strong choice,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) chair of the Oversight subcommittee holding the hearing, told E&E News?. “Do they risk coming close to the line, to committing perjury, and go the way of the tobacco executives? Or do they do a full mea culpa and admit all of the wrongdoing and commit to change?” (Perjury prep: E&E News; Decades of deception: NPR, The Conversation; Hearing generally: Earther, Reuters, New York Times $, Axios, Reuters, AP)


Chicago At Risk as Climate Change Causes Wild Swings in Lake Michigan Water Levels. CNBC.com reports: “The Great Lakes are often called the nation’s third coast, and the past five years in the region have been the wettest on record. While the lakes don’t exactly correlate to rising sea levels, Chicago now sits in just as precarious a position as oceanfront cities. Heavier rainfall and more frequent droughts are now causing extreme swings in the water levels of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, wreaking havoc on the city and prompting urgent action to find a fix. In the winter of 2020, the water level in Lake Michigan hit a record high and intense rains just kept coming. Waves crashed over Lakeshore Drive, sending water up to the third floor of some buildings. The Chicago River also began to overflow into downtown…”

The thumbs up Like logo is shown on a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Photo: Jeff Chiu (AP)

The Climate Denial is Coming From Inside Facebook’s House. Gizmodo explains: “In the midst of the second-hottest October in human history, a question popped up on an internal Facebook message board. “Policy for Misinformation – Climate Change Denial?” The question sparked a discussion, including with an employee arguing that Facebook allowing climate denial posts to run unchecked on the platform made sense because the science around a specific type of ulcer once shifted. The post, available here, is part of a tranche of documents released by whistleblower Francis Haugen’s legal team that Gizmodo and other outlets have received access to. (You can see what we’ve turned up so far.) The names of “low-level” Facebook employees are redacted, so it’s unclear who specifically engaged in the debate over climate change denial content. But the chats are illuminating in just how hands-off Facebook has been with climate denial, and how even within a company committed to net zero emissions by 2030, a laissez-faire attitude about perpetuating denial still reigns in some corners…”

Climate Central

COP26. The global climate conference kicks off this weekend in Glasgow, Scotland. Climate Central has an overview of the next U.N. Climate Conference: “The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, will take place from October 31 to November 12th in Glasgow, Scotland. During COP26, world leaders are expected to review and increase their national-level plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5-2°C (2.7-3.6°F). The outcomes of COP26 are locally relevant, as demonstrated in Climate Central’s new temperature projections for 246 locations across the U.S. Projected warming across the U.S. could range from 1-5°C (1.8-9°F relative to 1991-2020) by 2100, depending on how quickly emissions are cut. The strongest warming is projected in the Midwest region and some upper parts of New England…”

Climate Central

National Geographic Graphic

The World is Still Falling Short of Meeting Its Climate Goals. National Geographic has a good summary of where things stand today; here’s the intro: “On the cusp of an international meeting beginning Sunday that could well determine whether the world can bring climate change under control, it can be revealing to assess how the largest emitters of global emissions are doing at curtailing them. Many countries are expected to announce new targets, the first time since the Paris Agreement of 2015 tried to put the world on a path to sustainable carbon emissions. But many of these countries already are falling short at meeting their current targets, including the world’s five biggest carbon polluters: China, United States, India, Russia, and Japan, which account for almost six-tenths of all emissions. According to the annual UN Emissions Gap Report, the G20, a group of industrialized countries, is not on track to meet its existing pledges—a “significant reason the world remains on a path toward worsening climate catastrophes,” the report says…”

6 in 10 Blame Oil Companies for Climate Change: Poll. TheHill breaks it down: “A poll released today found that 60 percent of Americans view oil and gas companies as ”completely or mostly responsible” for global warming. The poll from The Guardian, YouGov, Vice News and Covering Climate Now showed that most Americans want to see these companies face accountability for their contributions to global warming. The fossil fuel industry has long attempted to deny climate science despite the Environmental Protection Agency noting that “burning fossil fuels changes the climate more than any other human activity.” In the U.S., the survey showed divisions along party lines in terms of acknowledging the climate crisis at all. A total of 69 percent of U.S. adults who took part in the survey agreed that global warming was happening. However, when divided by party, 89 percent of Democrats agreed about the reality of global warming compared to 42 percent of Republicans…”