Relatively Quiet The Next 10-14 Days

Kurt Vonnegut said it best in his book, Cat’s Cradle. “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God”. Amen.

My wife and I were out east visiting family for Thanksgiving; caught up in the ice storm that paralyzed much of the Northeast. A few travel epiphanies: always rent AWD. Even on rain all-wheel drive makes a big difference. That, and leave more time between scheduled events. When you’re rushing around the potential for careless accidents increases.

After last week’s snowy-tantrums I’m happy to report a fairly quiet pattern into much of next week. I repeat, until further notice the pattern is no longer ripe for big, beefy storms. A few clippers will drop out of Canada, whipping up flurries Thursday; again next Monday. But no streams of southern moisture are brewing the next 10-12 days. Beyond that, all bets are off.

A Pacific breeze prevails with highs at or above 32F the next 6 days. I see 20s for highs a week before Christmas. No sustained arctic air – just cold enough to hang onto most of our snow.

Photo details: I snapped this photo of the western suburbs as we were coming in for a final approach at MSP yesterday morning. Lake Minnetonka is in the background, still largely ice-free. It didn’t look like 7″ on the ground…

Third Week of December: Moderately Cold. The week before Christmas will be chilly, but probably not arctic, with a modified Pacific flow across most of the USA and a more active southern branch to the jet stream. That could be good for a streak of 20s (above zero!)

Hurricane Season Ends, but Dorian Left a “Massive, Massive Crisis” in the Bahamas. Here’s a clip from a heart-wrenching post at Miami Herald: “…While the island nation is out from under the gun of another potentially punishing storm for the next six months, the grueling task of getting Bahamians back into their homes and jobs has barely begun. In Grand Bahama, business takes place in tents these days. They’re found at airport customs, at the public hospital and in front yards along the outer streets of Freeport. Joyce Tate, 48, and her family now live in a white dome tent with a view of the rubble that once was their four-bedroom home on Sweetings Cay, on the southern end of the island. Her husband, Robert Tate, a 48-year-old fisherman, lost his two boats and many of his lobster traps in the storm, so he’s trying to earn his living on someone else’s boat for now...”

Read more here:

Image credit: “Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama Island before and after Hurricane Dorian. The images show the landscape changing from green to brown and brightening of the reefs and shoals from sediments stirred up around the island.”

Active 2019 Hurricane Season Comes to an End. NOAA has a good summary of another busy season; here are a couple of excerpts: “The season produced 18 named storms, including six hurricanes of which three were “major” (Category 3, 4 or 5). NOAA’s outlook called for 10-17 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes and 2-4 major hurricanes, and accurately predicted the overall activity of the season….This year marks the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. The only other period on record that produced four consecutive above-normal seasons was 1998-2001. Also this year, five tropical cyclones formed in the Gulf of Mexico, which ties a record with 2003 and 1957 for the most storms to form in that region. Of those, three — Barry, Imelda and Nestor — made landfall in the U.S...”

Low-Frequency Sound May Predict Tornado Formation. The theory that tornadic storms give off detectable pulses of energy is not a new one – I remember this dating back to the 1970s. But researchers at Oklahoma State are pushing the boundaries and quantifying how/why this may happen. Here are a couple clips from “How can you tell when a storm is going to produce a tornado even before the twister forms? Research from Oklahoma State University and University of Nebraska-Lincoln indicates prior to tornado formation, storms emit low-frequency sounds…The researchers wanted to explore how fluid mechanics cause the sounds detected before a tornado is created. Those sounds are well below the range of human hearing. They will present recent infrasound observations from the 2019 as well as discuss how they were able to detect tornado formation, even before they were spotted on radars…”

Photo credit: “Researchers will discuss research on fluid mechanisms behind infrasound emitted before tornado formation at this year’s APS DFD meeting.” Credit: OSU Brand Management/Phil Shockley.

New 5F Wireless Deal Threatens Accurate Weather Forecasts. I mean, what can possibly go wrong? Scientific American frames the threat: “The international agency that regulates global telecommunications agreed to new radio-frequency standards on 21 November. Meteorologists say the long-awaited decision threatens the future of weather forecasting worldwide, by allowing transmissions from mobile-phone networks to degrade the quality of Earth observations from space. Wireless companies are beginning to roll out their next-generation networks, known as 5G, around the world. The new agreement is meant to designate the radio frequencies over which 5G equipment can transmit. But some of those frequencies come perilously close to those used by satellites to gather crucial weather and climate data. To keep the signals from interfering with one another, researchers have proposed turning down the amount of noise allowed to leak from the 5G transmissions...”

Image credit: NOAA.

Your E-mails are Ruining the Environment. The New York Post has the surprising results: “Your pointless emails are aren’t just boring people — they are ruining the environment. Sending email has such a high carbon footprint that just cutting out a single email a day — such as ones that simply say “LOL” — could have the same effect as removing thousands of cars from the street, according to a new study of habits in the UK. The study, commissioned by OVO Energy, England’s leading energy supply company, used the UK as a case study and found that one less “thank you” email a day would cut 16,433 tons of carbon caused by the high-energy servers used to send the online messages. That’s the equivalent of 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road, the research said...”

Staggering Levels of Debt. I almost fell off my (heavily financed) sofa after reading a story at Bloomberg: “…A decade of easy money has left the world with a record $250 trillion of government, corporate and household debt. That’s almost three times global economic output and equates to about $32,500 for every man, woman and child on earth. Much of that legacy stems from policy makers’ deliberate efforts to use borrowing to keep the global economy afloat in the wake of the financial crisis. Rock bottom interest rates in the years since has kept the burden manageable for most, allowing the debt mountain to keep growing...”

All-Electric Snowmobiles Are a Thing. Check out offerings from Taiga Motors, featured in this post at Electrek: “With little to no standards and many two-stroke engines, current gas-powered snowmobiles are generally incredibly polluting – sometimes 50 times more polluting than an average car. People operate the machines to experience the great outdoors and it’s a shame to have to pollute your environment to do it. An electric snowmobile would result in a zero-emission riding experience and it would also greatly reduce the noise pollution on snow trails since gas-powered snowmobiles are extremely loud. As you can see, some of these models have impressive specs, including 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration in just 2.9 seconds. I experienced the acceleration of Taiga’s last electric snowmobile prototype and it was exhilarating…”

Russian Cows Get VR Head Sets to Reduce Anxiety. Sign me up. BBC has details: “A Russian farm has given its dairy cows virtual reality headsets in a bid to reduce their anxiety. The herd donned VR systems adapted for the “structural features of cow heads” and were shown a “unique summer field simulation program”. Moscow’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food cited research which they say has shown a link between a cow’s emotional experience and its milk yield. Initial tests reportedly boosted “the overall emotional mood of the herd…”
Photo credit: “The headsets were specially adapted to fit cow heads.” Moscow Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

6″ snow on the ground at MSP Monday morning.

26 F. high temperature Monday in the Twin Cities.

32 F. average high on December 2.

34 F. high on December 2, 2018.

December 3, 1998: Albert Lea soars to a record-setting 67 degrees.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, milder. Winds: W 7-12. High: 33

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, not bad at all. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 27. High: 37

THURSDAY: Weak clipper, few flurries? Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 25. High: 32

FRIDAY: Bright sunshine, light winds. Winds: W 3-8. Wake-up: 13. High: 29

SATURDAY: Blue sky, trending milder again. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 18. High: 36

SUNDAY: Clouds increase, milder than average. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 29. High: 35

MONDAY: Next clipper, coating of flurries? Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 21. High: 28

Climate Stories….

Where Flooding is Most Affecting Property Values. Here’s a snippet from a story at CityLab: “…But she says if she knew then what she knows now, she wouldn’t have bought it. She understood the risks of hurricanes and storm-driven flooding, but she didn’t anticipate the persistent inundation of water that even a stray breeze off the Gulf of Mexico can bring. Unfortunately, her home has gotten harder to sell. Crowe lives in a region of southwestern Mississippi that includes Bay St. Louis, which has experienced one of the most dramatic losses of flood-impacted real estate value in the United States, according to an analysis by Nexus Media in collaboration with CityLab. The city, population 13,000, lost out on more than $122 million in real estate appreciation due to the impacts of flooding. While that’s a smaller total than coastal areas like Jacksonville, Florida; or Charleston, South Carolina; the losses in Bay St. Louis likely hurt more in relative financial terms, because the median home value in Bay St. Louis is just $136,700…”

Photo credit: “A house built to withstand a storm surge and hurricane-force winds.” (Nexus Media).

UN Climate Talks Begin in Madrid… Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “The UN’s annual climate change negotiations kicked off Monday morning in Madrid, where representatives from hundreds of countries will meet to refine the rules of the Paris Agreement. In an opening speech to delegates, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres criticized the lack of “political will” in advancing the Paris Agreement’s goals. “Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?” Guterres asked. In the wake of the Trump administration formally beginning the process to pull out of the Paris Agreement last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday she would be leading a delegation of 14 members of Congress to the talks, while over 70 leaders from US cities, states, businesses and other institutions are also attending.” (COP: AP, Politico, Financial Times, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters. Guterres: AP, Reuters, Slate, AFP. Pelosi: CNN, CBS)

Scientist’s Theory of Climate’s Titanic Moment the “Tip of a Mathematical Iceberg”. The Guardian explains: “…There is a time lag between the rapid cuts to greenhouse gases and the climate system reacting. Knowing if you have enough time tells you if you’re in an emergency or not. Schellnhuber used “standard risk analysis and control theory” to come up with the formula, and he was already putting numbers to it. “As a matter of fact, the intervention time left for limiting global warming to less than 2C is about 30 [years] at best. The reaction time – time needed for full global decarbonisation – is at least 20 [years].” As the scientists write in Nature, if the “reaction time is longer than the intervention time left” then “we have lost control...”

Climate Change Threatens Nearly 80% of Superfund Sites in Houston Area. The Houston Chronicle reports; here’s an excerpt: “Rising seas and more intense flooding caused by climate change could put nearly 80 percent of the Superfund sites in the Houston area at greater risk of releasing toxic pollutants into waterways and nearby communities, data from a congressional watchdog agency show. A report by the Government Accountability Office found that more frequent or intense extreme-weather events such as flooding, storm surge and wildfires could affect 60 percent of the contaminated sites nationwide — and 67 percent in Texas — overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The GAO recommended that the federal agency do more to manage the risks from climate change. The EPA largely rejected the report’s recommendations…”

File photo credit: “The San Jacinto Waste Pits superfund site on the San Jacinto River in Channelview, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.Photo: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

One City’s Plan to Combat Climate Change: Bulldoze Homes, Rebuild Paradise. The Washington Post reports on Charlotte, North Carolina trying to go on offense with a rapidly-changing climate: “...But the Queen City has also been steadily unbuilding itself, bulldozing houses and razing apartment complexes along its creeks, ripping up a mall parking lot to reveal a hidden waterway and then stripping away its concrete banks, all in a bid to prevent the flash flooding that turns communities into deathtraps. The North Carolina county has removed 460 structures and replaced them with absorbent grasslands, winning national praise as a prototype for regional flood planning that anticipates the impact of projected development and the growing effects of extreme weather. The innovative strategy was ahead of the curve when it launched in the 1990s, by calculating future flood risk and then purchasing — and demolishing — vulnerable homes, businesses and office buildings...”

Photo credit: “Young trees are protected at the Chantilly Ecological Sanctuary along Briar Creek in Charlotte.” (Eamon Queeney/For The Washington Post).

East Coast Snowfalls: More Blockbuster Snowstorms But Less Snow Overall? The “freezer door left open” analogy. Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating post from Andrew Freedman at Capital Weather Gang: “…Judah Cohen, a meteorologist at AER, a Verisk Analytics company, has published multiple studies that link changing snowfall trends in the eastern United States to change in the Arctic. His research shows that the loss of Arctic sea ice is contributing to an increase in fall snowfall in parts of Siberia. This is, in turn, having an influence on weather across the Arctic, extending high into the atmosphere above the vast region, favoring weather patterns that tend to direct Arctic air into the Lower 48 states. Specifically, Cohen has shown that a chain of events beginning with global warming-driven sea ice melt can disrupt the polar vortex, a ribbon of rapidly flowing air at high altitudes above the Arctic circulating around an area of low pressure. When the polar vortex is strong, the coldest air tends to stay locked up in the far north. When it weakens, splits or wobbles, it can allow ultracold air to spill out to the south, including into the Mid-Atlantic…”

Graphic above: Laris Karklis, Washington Post. Source: National Weather Service.

There’s Snow Avoiding The Flu: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Climate change may actually intensify some of winter’s worst impacts in the US despite shortening and warming the season overall, stories reported by the Washington Post and Nexus Media News show. The Post examines the top 10 snowfalls on record in five major East Coast cities, finding that at least half of these major storms have occurred since 1990 in all cities surveyed. “Instead of expecting a winter full of small snow events to keep things looking wintry, it’s possible that we’ve already entered a climate characterized more by a feast-or-famine scenario, in which a major snowstorm or two accounts for the bulk of our seasonal snowfall,” journalist Andrew Freedman explains. Meanwhile, Nexus Media News reports on how some scientists say that the full-year flu seasons in tropical countries suggest that more mild winters could actually extend the flu season in colder countries, and warmer weather could give the virus more time to mutate and become stronger.” (Snow: Washington Post $. Flu: Nexus Media News)

Americans Like Green New Deal’s Goals, but They Reject Paying Trillions to Reach Them. Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post (paywall) story: “…The poll found that just under half of American adults — 46 percent — said the United States needs to “drastically reduce” fossil fuel use in the next few years to avoid the worst effects of climate change, while 41 percent said a gradual reduction in fossil fuel usage is needed. Another 12 percent said nothing needs to be done to avoid the most severe impacts. By more than 2 to 1, Democrats believe a drastic, rather than gradual, reduction in emissions is necessary (66 percent vs. 31 percent), while Republicans are more likely to call for either a gradual reduction (51 percent) or no reduction at all (29 percent)…”

Photo credit: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is seen as Michael Cohen, former attorney to President Trump testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27.” (Matt McClain/The Washington Post) (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Most Millenial and Gen Z Republicans Want More Government Climate Action. Most Boomer Republicans Don’t. OK boomer. Here’s an excerpt from Vox: “…Digging further into the Republican side of the poll, it’s clear there is an ideological rift. Just 24 percent of Republicans who identify as “conservative” thought the federal government is doing too little to combat climate change, while 65 percent of Republicans who identify as “moderate to liberal” thought so. This is an increase from 2018, when 22 percent of conservative Republicans and 53 percent of moderate-to-liberal Republicans said the federal government isn’t doing enough. There’s a generational divide as well. Among the youngest Republicans — millennials and younger — 52 percent said that the federal government isn’t doing all the things it should be doing to limit global warming, compared to 41 percent of Republican Gen Xers and 31 percent of Republican boomers…”