There’s a Nasty Cold Bug Lurking Out There

I’m not looking for sympathy, but much of this week I was a snotty, blubbering, sneezing mess. The Mother of Head Colds! At one point Thursday complete strangers were offering me complimentary tissues. Blowing my nose had become my favorite hobby.

If you live in a cave (or your mother’s basement?) perhaps you can avoid communicable diseases. The rest of us can follow a few universal tips to lower risk. Wash your hands. Get enough sleep. Don’t touch your face. Hand sanitizer. Keep your distance from sick people (good luck with that one).

Today should be a fine October day with mid-50s and filtered sunshine. We cool off next week with a slushy coating possible Monday night or early Tuesday, but the heaviest snow bands set up over central Wisconsin, where plowable amounts are possible. I see a cold bias into early November, but no big piles of snow close to home anytime soon.

According to USDA a very wet 2019 means only 11 percent of Minnesota corn and 42 percent of soybeans have been harvested so far.

Map credit above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Record-Setting Pace for Rainfall Continues. Here’s a clip from this week’s edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley: “…With the rains of this week, the statewide average precipitation for this October is now very near 4.40 inches, ranking as the 6th wettest month of October in Minnesota history (and with six more days to go). Over 25 climate stations have reported over 6 inches of precipitation for the month, with parts of Pine, Mower, and Lake Counties reporting over 7 inches, over 3 times normal. As for year-to-date precipitation in 2019 many areas of the state are still on a record setting pace, with a large fraction of the Minnesota landscape already recording over 40 inches for the year. Climate stations reported 12-20 inches of above normal precipitation in 2019 are not uncommon. Rochester stands at 51.08 inches to-date, the wettest ever previous year was 43.94 inches in 1990…”

Twin Cities Snowfall. Above or below average this winter? Place your bets. The last 2 winters at MSP were considerably snowier than average, but the previous 2 winters only saw MSP snow totals in the 30s.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Friday, October 25th, 2019:

  • Fires continue to burn across portions of California this morning. In northern California, the Kincade Fire has burned 21,900 acres and is 5% contained. In southern California, the Tick Fire has burned 4,300 acres and is 5% contained.
  • Fire weather concerns will continue across southern California today, especially through the morning hours, due to strong winds and low humidity values. As we head into the weekend, the fire weather risk will start to increase again across portions of northern California, with Fire Weather Watches and High Wind Watches in place.
  • In the Front Range, heavy snow will be possible Saturday Night into Monday, including areas like Cheyenne and Denver. Through early next week, snowfall tallies of at least 6-12” will be possible.
  • We are also tracking Tropical Depression Seventeen in the Gulf of Mexico. This will help to bring copious amounts of moisture into the southern United States, with the potential of 2-4″ of rain for areas like New Orleans, Jackson, Memphis, Nashville, and Birmingham, that could lead to flash flooding.

Active Fire Updates. Several fires are burning this morning across portions of California. The larger ones are the:

  • Kincade Fire: The Kincade Fire, which started northeast of Geyserville, has burned 21,900 acres and is 5% contained. At least 49 structures have been destroyed, and evacuations remain in place. More information from CalFire:
  • Tick Fire: The Tick Fire, burning northeast of Santa Clarita, has burned 4,300 acres and was 5% contained as of the 7 AM update. 10,000 structures are threatened, and approximately 40,000 residents are under evacuation orders. This fire jumped the 14 Freeway earlier today and prompted its closure. More information from CalFire:

Fire Weather Concerns Continue Today. We continue to watch fire weather concerns today across southern California, with an extreme fire danger in place through at least the morning hours. The good news is that winds will start to subside a little this afternoon into the evening, which will help to decrease the fire weather threat across the region.

Red Flag Warnings. Due to the continuing risk of fire weather in place across southern California today, Red Flag Warnings are in place. Meanwhile, a system later in the weekend will produce the potential for strong, even damaging, winds across portions of northern California along with low humidity values. Due to this combination, fire weather concerns will increase Saturday into Sunday across northern California, and Fire Weather Watches are in place.

Wind Alerts In Place. High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories remain in place across southern California into the afternoon hours today as winds will gust in some areas up to 65 mph. This will allow any fires that form or are active across the region to quickly spread. Meanwhile, High Wind Watches are in place from late Saturday through Sunday across northern California. It could bring the potential of 45-55 mph wind gusts to the lower elevations with up to 65 mph gusts in the foothills and mountains.

Snow Concerns. We will also be tracking the potential of heavy snow across portions of the Front Range, including Cheyenne and Denver, as we head into the second half of the weekend and early next week. In these areas, snowfall tallies from Saturday Night through Sunday of at least a half a foot are possible with additional snow expected to fall Sunday night into Monday across this region. That could bring totals of around a foot in Denver by the time the snow ends.

Winter Storm Watches. Due to the snow potential, Winter Storm Watches have been put in place across portions of Wyoming and Nebraska – including Cheyenne – from Saturday evening through late Sunday night.

Tropical Depression Seventeen. This morning Tropical Depression Seventeen formed in the Gulf of Mexico – and it doesn’t have long to live. This system will merge with a cold front tonight, quickly becoming a post-tropical low tonight. While there is the chance it could reach tropical storm strength by tonight, the impacts on the northern Gulf coast will likely remain mainly heavy rain over the next couple of days.

Heavy Southern Rain. This tropical system will help to pump tropical moisture into the southern United States as what remains of the area of low pressure moves northeastward. Due to this, areas like New Orleans, Jackson, Memphis, Nashville, and Birmingham could see 2-4″ of rain through Saturday, with rain chances decreasing Saturday night.

Flood Potential. This heavy rain will bring the potential of flash flooding along with it, and due to that threat flash flood watches are in place from Oklahoma to Alabama.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Kincaid Fire: The Age of Flames is Consuming California. There have always been fires, but the size, intensity and ferocity of these blazes is increasing. Here’s an excerpt from (paywall): “…Welcome to what fire historian Steve Pyne calls the Pyrocene, a unique time in history when human use of fire, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, and the attendant climate change combine to create hell on Earth. “We are creating a fire age that will be equivalent to the Ice Age,” he says. The reckoning is here, and California—a highly flammable state packed with people—is getting it worse than just about anybody in the world. There’s good reason that, for the past three years, Northern California has seen particularly massive, fast-moving wildfires tear through communities. Every autumn, winds blow in from the northeast, heating up and picking up speed as they descend through mountain valleys. This sucks moisture out of vegetation, turning it into the perfect fuel for wildfires…”

File photo: Associated Press.

MSP Precipitation Numbers. Assuming zero in the bucket today (so numbers would be through Oct. 24th):

  • Year-to-date: Wettest on record
  • Full-year with no more precip : Tied for fifth (wettest: 40.32″ in 2016)
  • Fall-to-date: 18th wettest
  • Full fall season with no more precip : 40th wettest (wettest: 15.75″ in 1881)
  • October-to-date: 13th wettest
  • Full October with no more precip: 19th wettest (wettest: 6.42″ in 1911)

Statistics courtesy of Praedictix meteorologist D.J. Kayser. Photo credit: meteorologist Todd Nelson.

Is It Time to Scrap the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Rating Scale? Here’s a clip from a story I wrote for Medium: “…Hurricane experts are divided. Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, says two camps are emerging among hurricane experts, those who wish to modify the Saffir-Simpson scale, and those who want to scrap it and start over. Emanuel is in the second camp. He believes we should rate the threat, not the storm. Specifically, he envisions a new rating system that emphasizes threats to a specific location, as opposed to the current Saffir-Simpson scale, which is specific to the storm itself. “Most loss of life and damage in hurricanes is caused by water, not wind. In failing to rate the water damage, the Saffir Simpson scale is deeply deficient and should be discarded.” Emanuel envisions a better way to gauge risk, one that is location dependent. “Rather than rating the storm we should rate the total threat to specific places using, for example, a simple color-coded system, supplemented by concise, thoughtfully composed descriptions of the threat.” he said in a recent interview...”

Sunday Tornadoes Were Costliest in Texas History. AP has the details: “An insurance industry group says the nine tornadoes that struck the Dallas area during a Sunday night outbreak caused an estimated $2 billion in insured losses.The Insurance Council of Texas said the estimate, which it called “pretty conservative,” makes the tornado outbreak the costliest in state history. It exceeds the $1.2 billion in insured losses caused by a Dec. 26, 2015, tornado that killed 10 people in eastern Dallas suburbs. The National Weather Service says the strongest tornado Sunday hit the heavily populated north Dallas area, where the EF3 twister had peak winds of 140 mph (225 kph) and was on the ground for more than 15 miles (25 kilometers)...”

Photo credit: “Firefighters walk in a neighborhood damaged by a tornado in Dallas, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. The National Weather Service says nine tornadoes struck the Dallas area during Sunday’s stretch of severe storms in Texas.” (AP Photo/LM Otero).

Of All the Mistakes a Local News Outlet Can Make – This Is The Worst. I have to agree with TV meteorologist Dan Satterfield, writing for AGU Blogosphere: “…It will take years for that station to gain the trust of viewers back. I’ve seen this before and nothing can be more damaging to the reputation of a television station. All of those weather promos telling their audience that they can trust them to give them advance warning of dangerous weather were a waste. KXAS almost certainly had far far more calls Sunday complaining about the interruption (when they finally did break into the game) than those who said thanks.  When people call complaining about their program being interrupted for severe weather (and believe me, the do in droves) most stations ignore it. They know that this information is far more important than a fictional sit-com or old rerun. It’s even more important than a live sporting event. So, you can call, but if the situation is serious, you are wasting your time. What happened in Dallas explains why…”

Dallas Tornado: Satellite Photos Reveal Twisters’ Path from Above. Capital Weather Gang has a good post; here’s the intro: “A damaging tornado ripped through northwest Dallas and surrounding areas Sunday night, one of at least nine to touch down amid a severe weather outbreak. Stunning before and after photos from satellites have since emerged depicting the tempest’s fury as up to 140 mph winds carved a path 15 miles long. The photos, from Planet Labs, are sobering, revealing the power and caprice of the voracious vortex. It also illustrates the scale — the major streets align on a roughly one-square-mile grid. At the bottom of the image below, running west to east, you see Walnut Hill Lane in Preston Hollow. Above that, you can see a clustering of large buildings within a field. Among these buildings are the Cary Junior High School, Edward H. Cary Middle School and Thomas Jefferson High School, below the red track…”

Image credit: “Satellite imagery from Monday reveals where Sunday night’s tornado carved a path of heavy damage through parts of northwest and northern Dallas.” (Planet Labs).

Cumulus Trivia. Yes, if you could somehow squeeze out all those raindrops it would be a lot of water. Nugget courtesy of Mental Floss.

Earthquake Devastation Will Be Our Fault. Popular Science and has a compelling, information-rich interview with seismologist Lucy Jones: “…As she travels from LA to places such as the U.K. and New Zealand—­advising communities on how to get ready for hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, and earthquakes—Jones is determined to change one piece of ­infrastructure that requires no political ­action: ­human networks. “Traditional preparedness messaging tends to be very isolating,” Jones says. “It says: ‘You’re going to be on your own; nobody’s going to be there to help you. You need to take care of your family.’” There’s an implicit message that your neighbor might become your enemy. Jones says just the opposite is true, and you should start planning with others. “You have networks with parents at your child’s school,” she says. “There are faith communities and social organizations. There’s your network. They’re a forgotten target on getting ready for an earthquake…”

Chuck’s Plan to Trade Clunkers For EVs: Climate Nexus has URLs and headlines: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled a plan Thursday that would spend more than $460 billion over the next decade to help Americans trade in their cars for hybrid or electric models. The rebate proposal, which Schumer is framing as climate legislation that would get the backing of labor groups, would include extra incentives for low-income households and households that bought American-made cars, as well as billions in funding to boost electric car infrastructure and to help manufacturers create more electric car parts. “I have promised that if Democrats win control of the Senate in November 2020, I, as majority leader, will introduce bold and far-reaching climate legislation,” Schumer wrote in an accompanying New York Times op-ed. “This proposal for clean cars would be a key element of that bill.” (New York Times $, AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, Axios. Commentary: New York Times $, Chuck Schumer op-ed $)

File photo: Richard Vogel, AP.

10 Steps To Make Your Office More Environmentally Friendly. has some good advice: “…Introducing a zero single-use plastic policy can be a challenging but effective way of cutting your office’s environmental impact. Start by exchanging plastic cups and takeaway boxes for reusable containers, before cutting back in other areas like office supplies. Get buy-in from your colleagues by gamifying the process. Create a leaderboard where teammates can earn points for refusing single-use plastics, or start a plastic swear jar requiring a $2 donation for every piece of single-use plastic used. The money can go toward a team social or a charity donation…”

Walmart Wants Robots in Stores. Target Doesn’t. CNN explains: “Walmart and Target are taking different approaches to adding robots in stores, a split that will have an impact on the companies’ massive workforces and shape the future of automation in retail.  Both of these legacy brick-and-mortar companies are testing robots in their warehouses. Walmart (WMT), the country’s largest retailer and private employer, expects to add self-driving robots that scrub floors to 1,860 of its more-than 4,700 US stores by February. It will also add robots that scan shelf inventory at 350 stores and bots at 1,700 stores that automatically scan boxes as they come off delivery trucks and sort them by department onto conveyer belts…”

How Dick’s Sporting Goods is Building a Post-Gun Future. A story at caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…Dick’s has removed guns altogether from 125 of its 727 namesake stores to see what could replace sales, and just sold eight of its 18 standalone hunting Field & Stream stores. In fact, the company’s entire hunting business, including guns, is up for “strategic review.” To offset that business, Dick’s wants to aggressively pursue more serious athletes, not just the casual player, and the outdoor crowd that usually shops at REI or L.L. Bean. It’s also adding more experiential elements to its stores, including HitTrax baseball batting cages and indoor golf driving ranges to help shoppers find the right clubs...”

Photo credit: “The original Dick’s store in Binghamton, N.Y.

A Real-Life Invisibility Cloak Designed for the Military? The stuff of science fiction is rapidly becoming science-fact. Futurism explains: “Canada’s Hyperstealth Biotechnology already manufactures camouflage uniforms for militaries across the globe. But now, the company has patented a new “Quantum Stealth” material that disguises a military’s soldiers — or even its tanks, aircraft, and ships — by making anything behind it seem invisible. Earlier in October, Hyperstealth filed a patent for the material, which doesn’t require a power source and is both paper-thin and inexpensive — all traits that could make it appealing for use on the battlefield. According to a press release, it works by bending the light around a target to make it seemingly disappear. This light can be in the visible spectrum, or it can be ultraviolet, infrared, or shortwave infrared light, making the material what Hyperstealth calls a “broadband invisibility cloak...”

Image credit: Hyperstealth.

The Phone Call Isn’t Dead, It’s Evolving. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) explains: “…Talking was the most popular way to communicate via cellphone in the fall of 2012, with 94% of survey respondents having done so in the prior week, according to consumer-research firm MRI-Simmons. By the spring of 2019, talking had fallen to least popular, behind texting, emailing, posting to social media and using chat apps, with just 45% reporting doing it in the prior week. In other words, less than half had used their phone for an actual phone call. Multiple people I interviewed said when the phone rings unexpectedly, they assume someone has died. But some app developers and investors think voice communication over the phone isn’t the problem, just the act of making a phone call itself…”

Rats Taught to Drive Tiny Cars to Lower Their Stress Levels. Yet reading this post from BBC had the effect of raising my stress level: “Researchers at the University of Richmond in the US taught a group of 17 rats how to drive little plastic cars, in exchange for bits of cereal. Study lead Dr Kelly Lambert said the rats felt more relaxed during the task, a finding that could help with the development of non-pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness. The rats were not required to take a driving test at the end of the study. Dr Lambert and her colleagues built a tiny electric car by attaching a clear plastic jar to an aluminium plate, fitted to a set of wheels. A copper wire was then threaded horizontally across the jar – the cab of the car – to form three bars, left, right and center…”

Photo credit: AFP. “The rats controlled the car by touching different parts of the copper wire.”

When Binge Drinking Becomes and Artform. BBC News has the story: “What do you get when you mix a pint of beer, a can of Pepsi, a huge glass of flaming spirits, and a raw egg?For Liu Shichao – who filmed himself downing the lot in eight seconds – you get 12 million views on Twitter and a worldwide fanbase. And that video wasn’t a one-off. In another clip, he smokes a cigarette, ignites six cocktails, and swallows them all (800,000 views on Twitter). In another, he mixes vodka, whisky, red wine, beer – and, of course, the trademark egg – and drinks it like water (a mere 500,000 views). Most of Liu’s supporters are men – “I guess they also love drinking, maybe there is a little sense of jealousy” – but his wife does not share their admiration…”

October Summary. Courtesty of Praedictix.

SATURDAY: Plenty of sunshine, breezy. Winds: S 10-15. High: 56

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy and cooler. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 36. High: 45

MONDAY: Dry daylight, slushy coating at night? Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 31. High: near 40

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy and chilly. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 28. High: 39

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, still brisk. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 26. High: 37

THURSDAY: Patchy clouds, dry Halloween. Winds: N 3-8. Wake-up: 25. High: near 40

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 42

Climate Stories….

U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change, Report Commissioned by Pentagon Says. Say what? has the story: “According to a new U.S. Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes. The senior US government officials who wrote the report are from several key agencies including the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA. The study called on the Pentagon to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we near mid-century...”

As Climate Changes, More U.S. Cities Must Brace for High Heat, Bitter Cold and Worse. Here’s a clip from a post at CBS News: “…While cities like St. Louis are making headway girding for climate change, not enough metro areas are reporting their potential hazards or conducting assessments, said Katie Walsh of CDP North America. The list of lagging cities include Louisville, Kentucky; Sacramento and San Jose, California; Kansas City, Missouri; Fort Worth, Texas; and Anchorage, Alaska.  “Cities that are able to identify the risks that they have are in a better position to be able to respond and react and adapt because they can put in planning efforts,” she said. Other cities making progress in mitigating climate change risks include New York and San Francisco, though some smaller places are also moving forward…”

Stressed About Climate Change? Eight Tips For Managing Eco-Anxiety. NewScientist has the post; here’s an excerpt: “…If you are feeling anxious about the environment, here are eight approaches for managing your eco-anxiety and feeling less hopeless. There was disagreement at the meeting over the value of lifestyle changes. The impact of individual actions can be very small, but psychotherapist Mary-Jayne Rust suggested that changing your lifestyle to be more compatible with your values can help with eco-anxiety. Researchers from Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute offered several ways to do this: eat less meat and dairy, drive less and stop buying and disposing of so many items. “We live in a throwaway society,” said the institute’s Neil Jennings. “We consume much more than we need and it’s not making us happy...”

Sports Are Feeling the Heat from Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a story at Bloomberg Opinion: “Climate change is likely to melt glaciers, raise sea levels and obliterate vulnerable species. It may also disrupt venerable sporting traditions. The 2020 Olympic marathon, previously scheduled for Tokyo, is now being relocated to cooler Sapporo, thanks to extreme heatwaves that have killed hundreds and hospitalized thousands in recent years.It’s no isolated incident. As global temperatures rise, athletic events as diverse as Iditarod races and baseball games are feeling the effects. Sports may seem inconsequential next to other climate disruptions, such as habitat loss or warming seas…”

Photo credit: “Maybe rethink this one.” Photographer: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP.

Trump Administration to Begin Formal Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord. The New York Times reports: “The Trump administration is preparing the formal withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to three people briefed on the matter, a long expected move that nevertheless remains a powerful signal to the world. The official action sets in motion a withdrawal that still would take a year to complete under the rules of the accord. Abandoning the landmark 2015 agreement in which nearly 200 nations vowed to reduce planet warming emissions would fulfill one of President Trump’s key campaign promises while placing the world’s largest economy at odds with the rest of the globe on a top international policy priority…”

File image: Climate Reality.

Electric Cargo Bikes Put Minnesota Moms in Low-Carbon Lane. Star Tribune has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…Breen attributes the boost in cargo bike sales to families that want to ditch their cars altogether, or go “car light” — meaning they want to own just one car, or drive less frequently. “There’s really a lack of imagination around bicycles in this country,” Canning said. “People see them as a toy that you ride when you’re little, and then give up. We really want to emphasize that it’s a tool that can do so much more.” The most popular cargo bike at Perennial Cycle is the Spicy Curry E-bike by Yuba, which has a $4,500 price tag, which may seem financially daunting. But, Breen says, if a cargo bike is considered a means of transportation, it’s actually quite affordable when compared to the cost of keeping a car. The average cost to own a car is $9,282 a year, or $773.50 a month, according to AAA…”

Photo credit: JEFF WHEELER – Star Tribune. “Aimee Witteman on her commuting route home on West River Parkway in Minneapolis with her daughters Barrett, 3, and Georgia, 6, on board her cargo bike.”

The Power of Trees to Fight Floodwaters. Climate Central reports: “…By absorbing rainwater, reducing erosion, and creating more permeable soils, trees save nearly 400 billion gallons of stormwater runoff in the contiental U.S. each year. That’s enough to cover the state of Rhode Island in more than a foot of water!  Stormwater avoided totals are highest in certain urban areas that are prone to high runoff rates. Harris, Texas (home to Houston) leads the Forest Service’s county data, followed by Middlesex, Mass. (near Boston), Allegheny, Penn. (home to Pittsburgh), and Cook, Ill. (home to Chicago). Results are similar when aggregated by media market, with New York, Atlanta, and Boston ranking highest. Trees also avoid more stormwater in rainier regions, from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Northwest…”

Massachusetts Joins Exxon Suit Party: Links and headlines via Climate Nexus: “Massachusetts filed suit against Exxon Mobil Thursday for misleading consumers and investors on climate change, becoming the second state to officially accuse the oil giant of fraud. The suit takes a broader scope than the suit currently being heard in the New York Supreme Court, accusing Exxon of misleading not only investors, but also using advertising to mislead consumers. “Exxon has known for decades about the catastrophic climate impacts of burning fossil fuels–its chief product,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “Yet, to this day, Exxon continues to deceive Massachusetts consumers and investors about the dangerous climate harms caused by its oil and gasoline products and the significant risks of climate change–and efforts to address it–to Exxon’s business. We are suing to stop this illegal deception and penalize the company for its misconduct.” (BloombergClimate Liability NewsBuzzfeed, Reuters, Boston Globe $, InsideClimate News)

ExxonMobil’s Climate-Change Accounting Goes on Trial. Wait, two sets of books? Here’s an excerpt from CBS News: “…Starting in 2010, Exxon began telling the public that it had assigned a price to carbon internally to model how government regulation would affect its business. However, it used two sets of figures: A high number that it presented to investors and a lower number in internal documents. Effectively, it was telling investors that its business decisions had fully considered the effects of future government regulations, when they had not. The company made a number of oil-intensive investments, such as extraction in the Alberta, Canada, tar sands, that would have been dramatically less profitable if calculated with a high cost of carbon. Its dual sets of numbers also had the effect of discouraging investments in clean energy internally, because they appeared less profitable when the cost of carbon was low than when it was high…”