Just Over 3 Weeks Until Daylight Increases

“Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for foregiveness, or else forgiving another” wrote Jean Paul Richter in the 18th century. As we head into the darkest months of winter and the pandemic I’m hoping we can give each other extra space and grace, and look for the good in one another.

Weather will cooperate with hikes, bikes and brisk walks with friends into next week. Consider this: in 21 days daylight will start to increase again. If you have a hankering for spring, average temperatures start to climb again in roughly 6 weeks.

The Twin Cities National Weather Service looked at data and discovered 2 out of the 3 winters with no snow on the ground at MSP on December 3 went on to have a white Christmas; at least an inch of snow on December 25. Hang in there snow-lovers.

Quiet, storm-free weather spills into next week with more days in the 40s. Temperatures cool off roughly a week before Christmas, but nothing polar is brewing.

A white Christmas in 2020 may come right down to the wire.

Photo credit: Paul Douglas.

Where’s the Snow? According to NOAA NOHRSC 16.9% of the lower 48 states are snow covered. It is strange seeing the Dakotas and so much of Minnesota and Wisconsin snow-free on the 4th day of December.

White Christmas Musings. So you’re telling me there’s a chance…? Kudos to the Twin Cities National Weather Service for doing the research and putting the odds of a white Christmas into perspective. Bottom line: past data shows that even with little or no snow on the ground at MSP on December 3 roughly 2 out of 3 of the following Christmas Days were “white” with an inch or more of snow on the ground.

Winter Pause Spills Into Next Week. NOAA NDFD predicted highs above show temperatures fairly consistently 5-15F above average into the middle of next week – I wouldn’t be surprised to see mid-40s in the metro area.

MSP Meteograms: Polar Signal Gone (For Now). Yesterday’s GFS model showed temperatures going off a clip by the third week of December, but that pesky mild, Pacific signal is back – showing cooling, but no sign of a polar vortex floating overhead. Wait for it: I suspect much colder air will arrive right around Christmas to New Year’s Day. Graphics: WeatherBell.

GFS Flip-Flop. This is a wildly different solution than advertised yesterday, so confidence levels out 2 weeks are even lower than usual. This suggests frigid air may hold off until the last week of December. Give or take a month.

Mild Signal Into January? NOAA’s CFSv2 model continues to show a milder than normal bias into the first month of 2021. Place your bets. Please, only wager what you can afford to lose.

Hurricane Hunters Reflect on Historic Season. WWL-TV in New Orleans has the story; here’s an excerpt: “...Looking back on the historic season, Smithies said the hardest part was knowing just how close to home some storms were hitting. “We have everyone living from New Orleans to Biloxi to Mobile so we are constantly away flying storms either out of home station or flying them out of other places. To have so much of the activity threatening home for us was tough this year,” said Smithies.  “How did you cope with so many storms so close to home this year?,” asked Dudley.   “I hate to use the word compartmentalize but it’s part of what we have to do,” said Smithies. “I mean duty calls and our mission is extremely important. We know that so we have to just prepare our families and homes the best we can and hope that everything is all good when we come home...”

Should Electric Car Chargers Be Installed at Gas Stations. Sounds like a logical transition to me. Here’s an excerpt from InsideEVs: “…Would charging at gas stations really be so bad? After all, there are plenty of them around, they’re widely distributed, and by definition they’re located conveniently for drivers. For years now, they’ve been earning their profits on soda and chips, not on gasoline, so their owners shouldn’t care much whether it’s ethyl or electrons that brings in the customers. The movement to electrify gas stations is already well underway in Europe. BP’s UK-based charging network subsidiary Chargemaster already has DC fast chargers up and running at several retail sites, and the company plans to roll out 400 ultra-fast chargers at BP sites across the UK by the end of 2021. Total and Shell are also moving aggressively into the EV charging space. In June, Germany announced that it would require all of the country’s 14,000 or so gas stations to add EV charging stations...”

Photo credit: “Shell is beginning to install EV chargers at some of their gas stations across Europe (Source: Shell UK)

What is “Net Zero”? Climate Central examines the challenge: “The term “net zero” means that any greenhouse gas emissions released are balanced by an equal amount being taken out of the atmosphere. The Paris Climate Agreement created goals to limit the increase in global temperatures to well below 2.0°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, and to aim to curb the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F). To do this, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut in half by 2030, and reach “net zero” by mid-century for the 1.5°C degree target. Core areas of the U.S. economy—transportation, electricity, industry, agriculture, and commercial and residential buildings—need to undergo major transformation in order to get to net zero…”

Find Your Place in the Vaccine Line. Looks like I’ll be at the back of the line – which is fine with me. Check out the interactive vaccine calculator to see how quickly you may get a shot, courtesy of the New York Times (paywall): “A vaccine may be around the corner, but how long will it be until you get the shot? Health officials are considering vaccine timelines that give some Americans priority over others. If you’re a healthy American, you may wait many months for your turn. To put this in perspective, we worked with the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs using their vaccine tool to calculate the number of people who will need a vaccine in each state and county — and where you might fit in that line…”

The Hair-Raising, Record-Setting Race to 331 MPH. Good grief. Impressed and slightly horrified. WIRED.com (paywall) has the details: “…After the satellite data from the onboard GPS system had been analyzed—the devices tracked two runs in opposite directions and calculated the average—Webb’s last dash came in at a staggering 331.15 mph. The first run speed was 301.07 mph, making the final verified average 316.11 miles per hour, handily beating both the Koenigsegg and the Bugatti records and cracking the metric milestone of 500 kilometers per hour just for good measure. In addition, the morning’s effort garnered records for the fastest flying mile on a public road (313.12 mph) and the highest speed achieved on a public road (331.15 mph). For Guinness to certify the achievement, the defacto keeper of world records sends two sanctioned witnesses and stipulates a variety of criteria, including production-vehicle specifications, the use of street tires and non-race fuel, and the averaged runs, to account for wind and road-grade factors that might favor a particular direction of travel...”

Photo credit: “The $1.6 million SSC Tuatara hypercar was designed with a deliberate eye to setting the world record for fastest production car.” Photograph: James Lipman/SSC North America.

41 F. high in the Twin Cities on Thursday.

31 F. average high on December 3.

38 F. high on December 3, 2019.

December 4, 1886: Minneapolis hits a record-setting 15 degrees below zero.

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and cool. Winds: N 7-12. High: 35

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, late flurries. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: 37

SUNDAY: Plenty of sunshine, quiet. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 27. High: near 40

MONDAY: Blue sky, still serene. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 41

TUESDAY: Winter pause continues. Bright sun. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 42

WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, relatively mild. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: 44

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 30. High: 43

Climate Stories…

Climate and COVID-19: Converging Crises. Here’s an excerpt of a post at The Lancet: “...This year’s Countdown report finds that no country is immune to avoidable loss of lives arising from widening inequalities, with every indicator in the report following a worsening trend. Climate has slipped from the top of the global agenda because of political indifference and the need to deal with the immediacies of COVID-19. 5 years on from the Paris Agreement, seizing the opportunity to refocus interests on sustainability offers the co-benefits of protecting our future health, the environment, and our planetary systems. As governments embark on economic recovery plans in the wake of COVID-19, concerns for climate change and equity are rightly focused on a green recovery. A global rapid transition to clean energy sources is needed, ending the stranglehold of fossil fuels. Decisions being made now must tackle both crises together to ensure the most effective response to each…”

Image credit: CDC.

2020 On Track To Be Second-Hottest Year Ever. Here’s an excerpt from Science Alert: “…The past six years, 2015 to 2020, are set to make up all six of the hottest years since modern records began in 1850, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its provisional 2020 State of the Global Climate report. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the 2020 report spells out “how close we are to climate catastrophe”.  “Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are increasingly the new normal,” he said in a speech at Columbia University in New York on the state of the planet. “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back – and it is already doing so with growing force and fury…”

Graphic credit: Climate Central.

Nestle CEO: Laggard CEO’s Put The Planet and their Businesses at Risk, Says CEO Mark Schneider. Here’s an excerpt of a post from Nestle’s CEO, courtesy of Fortune.com: “…Not all the facts are in today, but we know enough to act with a sense of urgency to address what is contributing to droughts and causing oceans to rise. Business leaders can no longer afford to be skeptical and interminably patient, waiting for every theory to be vetted or every climate model to be proven. The overall mechanism of action and direction of travel is clear. We should not expect comprehensive public policy and unanimity to do the job for us. This is a moment of truth for industry leaders. Those who choose hesitation over action will be endangering our planet and their business. Every person on earth is a shareholder in what must be a collective and international effort, and we are all served when measures to address climate change advance. Consumers care deeply about these issues as well, and if we don’t listen to them, they understandably won’t do business with us...”

Image credit: “A wind farm off the northeast coast of England. Thanks in part to a partnership with Danish energy company Ørsted, 100% of the electricity powering Nestlé U.K. now comes from wind power.” Courtesy of Ørsted.

A Start-Up’s Unusual Plan to Suck Carbon Out of the Sky. The Atlantic reports on an ambitious project: “…Stripe may now have more knowledge of the carbon-removal market than any other private company. In this era of greenwashing and sustainable everything, its program, called Stripe Climate, is one of the most compelling corporate climate initiatives now running. The term carbon removal refers to any technology that extracts carbon from the atmosphere and stores it for a long time. Trees, which inhale carbon as part of photosynthesis and lock it into wood, comprise the simplest form of carbon removal. But trees have their downsides: They take up real estate, require decades of care, and, in a disastrous wildfire, can burst into flame—and release their stored carbon back into the sky. Above all, they can store carbon for only a few centuries. To really tackle climate change, we need to ferret carbon out of the atmosphere for 1,000 years or more...”

2020 Hurricane Season Raising More Concerns About Climate Change. The underlying culprit is warming oceans; 93% of the additional man-made warming related to GHG emissions is going into the world’s oceans. Here’s an excerpt from The Daily Climate: “…An important part of this season’s story is the Atlantic warming trend we’re witnessing, which is unprecedented going back at least several millennia. The oceans store much of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases. With greenhouse gas concentrations still increasing due to human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, average sea surface temperatures are likely to continue rising over the coming decades. Whether climate change caused the extremely high number of storms this season is unclear. There is no detectable trend in global hurricane frequency, and computer modeling studies have had conflicting results. However, the warming climate is increasing the threat posed by hurricanes in other ways...”

Map credit: ” Tropical storm tracks show how busy the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was.” Credit: Brian McNoldy, CC BY-ND.

Turning Point on Climate Change? Countries Are Still Choosing Fossil Fuels Over Clean Energy, Report Says. Here’s the intro to an explainer at CNN.com: “Governments of the world are at a “critical juncture” for shaping the climate’s future but are on course to produce too many fossil fuels in the decade ahead, a new report has found. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) — which scientists say would avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change — countries need to wind down their fossil fuel production by 6% every year between now and 2030, according to the 2020 Production Gap report. Instead, countries are on track to produce an increase of 2% per year. And as governments pour money into their economies in a bid to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, they risk locking the world into a climate disaster by investing more heavily in fossil fuel industries...”

Climate Researchers Enlist Big Cloud Providers for Big Data Challenges. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports: “The cloud’s ability to chew through vast amounts of data using machine-learning algorithms is drawing in more researchers from the data-intensive world of climate science. “It’s a game-changer,” said Duncan Watson-Parris, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. He is using cloud-based machine learning algorithms from Amazon Web Services to better understand how actual clouds are altered by aerosols, such as soot and sulfate, from cargo ships. And the shift hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Big Three cloud providers. AWS and others offer subscription-based remote data storage and online tools, and researchers say they can be an affordable alternative to setting up and maintaining their own hardware…”

Trees Can Help Slow Climate Change, But At a Cost. I stumbled upon an interesting press release at Ohio State News: “Widespread forest management and protections against deforestation can help mitigate climate change – but will come with a steep cost if deployed as broadly as policymakers have discussed, new research suggests. The study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, found that planting and protecting trees, especially in the tropics, could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 6 gigatons a year from 2025 to 2055. That reduction, the researchers’ economic model showed, would cost as much as $393 billion a year over the same time period. “There is a significant amount of carbon that can be sequestered through forests, but these costs aren’t zero,” said Brent Sohngen, co-author of the study and a professor of environmental economics at The Ohio State University…”

File image: Paul Douglas.