Monday, October 31, 2011

November 1: Storm Watch for Denver (more on record-smashing "Snow-tober" storm)

2011 Firearm Deer Hunting Opener Outlook: windy with (rain) showers, highs in the 50s; winds gusting to 30 mph. Wet snow possible over far northwestern MN, Red River Valley into eastern North Dakota, where several inches of snow may accumulate. Click here for more information from the Minnesota DNR.

"Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow." Steve Jobs' last words before his death, as reported by his sister, Mona Simpson, in a deeply moving eulogy in the New York Times.

Snowy Wonderland. Thanks to Nicholas Isaac from Bristol, Connecticut for passing on this photo (he just got power back and was able to send in some photos)

Historic "Snowtober" in the Northeast:

* Earliest snow.
* Most snow.
* Earliest snow days at area schools from Maine to Virginia.
* Record state power outages.

(source: CNN)

"Widely referred to by its social media moniker, “Snowtober,” the storm smashed records that had stood since the beginning of the reliable instrument record in the late 1800s (and in some cases, even longer than that), and upended assumptions about what a fall nor’easter can do." - Capital Weather Gang story about the record October snowfall below.

86% of northeastern USA had 4" or more of snow on Halloween. Photo above courtesy of The Morning Call).

31.4" snow: Golden Snow Shovel Award goes to the town of Jaffrey, Massachusetts, where over 2 1/2 feet of snow piled up.

22.5" snow at Concord, New Hampshire: second greatest 24 hour snowfall (in any month). Source: Capital Weather Gang.

2.9" Central Park, New York City: only time in New York City history where an inch or more has been reported in October.

Nearly 1,000 trees may be lost in Central Park due to Saturday's heavy wet snow (New York Times).
"The most extraordinary October snowstorm in over two centuries in the Northeast U.S. has finally come to an end this Sunday afternoon. Not since the infamous snow hurricane of 1804 have such prodigious amounts of snow been recorded in New England and, to a lesser extent, in the mid-Atlantic states. In fact, the snowfall, in most cases, has exceeded that of even the great October snow of 1804." - Christopher Burt, weather historian, courtesy of Dr. Jeff Master's WunderBlog.

Snowy Stripe. Over a foot of snow piled up from the hills of northern Virginia, West Virginia and western Maryland northward to Pennsylvania and much of New England. Map courtesy of NOAA's NOHRSC Interactive Snow Information products available here. Graphic above courtesy of Capital Weather Gang and NOAA.

Historic October Northeast Storm: Epic. Incredible. Downright Ridiculous. Once again meteorologists are scratching their heads over the freakishly intense super-storm that submerged tens of millions of Americans in the northeast under 4-24" of snow. Andrew Freedman from the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has a good overview: "Perhaps no combination of superlatives could do justice to the historic snowstorm that delivered a crippling wallop to parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast over the weekend. Widely referred to by its social media moniker, “Snowtober,” the storm smashed records that had stood since the beginning of the reliable instrument record in the late 1800s (and in some cases, even longer than that), and upended assumptions about what a fall nor’easter can do. The heavy, wet snow pasted onto trees still bearing foliage in many areas and weighed down power lines, knocking out power to at least three million people in the region. "

Getting Closer. A Winter Storm Watch is posted for the Denver area for 4-8" of snow from tonight into Wednesday. A wave of low pressure rippling northeast along an advancing cold front may squeeze out a few inches of snow from near Kansas City to Des Moines the Quad Cities to Rockford and Madison.

Saturday: Warm Enough For Rain. Models spin up an impressive storm for the weekend, but a storm track well west of the Twin Cities will place most of Minnesota on the warm side of the storm, highs in the 50s with rain showers likely. Wet snow is possible north/west of Detroit Lakes and Thief River Falls, from Fargo/Moorhead north to Crookston, and as much as 3-6" snow may accumulate over the central and eastern Dakotas. The farther north/west you go, the better the odds of enough snow for tracking.

October Storm's Power Outages Top Hurricane Irene's Numbers. has the story: "Last month, Hurricane Irene left more than 260,000 PPL customers without power. The rare October nor’easter that on Saturday dumped 5.5 inches of heavy snow in the Harrisburg area was worse. Saturday’s storm left 315,000 PPL customers in central and eastern Pennsylvania and 257,000 Met-Ed customers without electricity. By 7:15 p.m. Sunday, PPL still had 150,000 customers without electricity in its 29-county region, including 1,995 in Cumberland County, 3,027 in Dauphin County, 1,003 in Lebanon County, 1,288 in Perry County and 1,998 in York County. The outages occurred when leaf-laden trees bent and broke under the heavy snow and fell on power lines and poles. In a company statement, PPL called the Lehigh Valley the hardest-hit region, with 125,000 customers affected, followed by the Harrisburg and Lancaster areas."

Widespread Damage. Millions without power, some people may be in the dark through the end of the week. Tens of thousands of trees may have been damaged or destroyed by the freak, early-season snowfall. Heavy and wet it accumulated on leaves (that had yet to fall from trees), making a bad situation even worse. Check out this YouTube footage of damage in upstate New York. Unbelievable.

Saturday's Record Snowfall From Space. With a little practice you can differentiate cloudcover from freshly fallen snow. Snow on the ground traces river valleys and mountain ridges - clouds tend to be brighter, an even shade of white. Map courtesy of Ham Weather.

Close-Up. Here's a high-res image from NASA's low-orbiting "Modis/Terra" satellite, which orbits the Earth a little more than 200 miles above the ground. Downtown Baltimore and Washington just missed the accumulating snow, but smudges of fresh snow are visible in metro New York.

Precipitation Amounts. NOAA has a terrific tool that tracks rainfall and snowfall amounts. Close to 2" of liquid precipitation fell on Long Island from Saturday's storm.

Flash Flood Warnings Issued For Miami-Dade. South Florida has seen soaking rains and considerable flash flooding in recent days. The Miami Herald has more details: "The respite from rain won’t last long. Though floodwaters slowly began receding Monday morning, more storms were expected to sweep across South Florida in the afternoon — some of them torrential enough to quickly turn streets and already saturated suburban yards into lakes once again. Most of South Florida was under a flood watch and just before noon the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for East Central Miami-Dade County as a band of intense cells approached from the south. “It’s been dry this morning but we do have some additional rain moving into the area this afternoon, some of it heavy,’’ said Robert Molleda, warning coordination meteorologist for the service’s Miami office. Some areas could see another one to two inches, maybe much more, to go on top of a weekend that produced double-digit rainfall amounts from Coral Gables to Fort Lauderdale. The rain could extend into the early evening, making for a soggy Halloween outing."

Fire Service Way Off On BWCA Fire Projections. The Star Tribune has the story: "ELY, MINN. — A series of internal reports show that the U.S. Forest Service repeatedly underestimated the explosiveness of the Pagami Creek Fire during a critical 18-day stretch of late August and early September, allowing a half-acre burn to grow into a massive firestorm that left eight people fighting for their lives inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As a result, officials failed at several goals established in their own fire management memos early on, records show. When the fire's signature phase erupted on Sept. 12, the blaze took off on a stunning 16-mile run that vaporized trees and turned into Minnesota's biggest forest fire since 1918. On a lake left unpatrolled by the Forest Service, two campers fought for their lives while trapped in a downpour of red-hot embers, blinding smoke and superheated gasses."

Products R Us. Are We "Brandwashed". Here's an interesting story from NPR: "Martin Lindstrom got into the advertising business early on. "I started up my own ad agency when I was 12 years old," he tells Guy Raz, host of weekend on All Things Considered. "I was a huge fan of Lego, so I built up my own Legoland in the backyard of my mom and dad's garden." No one showed up on the first day, but Lindstrom persuaded a local ad agency to sponsor him. On the third day, he had 131 visitors. The only problem? "Visitor number 130 and visitor 131 were the lawyers from Lego suing me." Since then, Lindstrom has learned a few things about advertising and marketing. He's advised major corporations such as Disney and Proctor & Gamble, and recently wrote a book called Brandwashed, which chronicles the many ways corporations get us to consume their products."

Weather: Cloudy With A Chance Of Stalking. Yes, some of these apps know EXACTLY where you are at any given time. Great for serving up a relevant ad, but it turns out that many people aren't fond of digital stalking. has the story: "It’s like being followed by the weatherman. A new class action suit against HTC makes some unsettling allegations about how the phone maker has been using a built-in weather app. In a suit filed in Seattle federal court, two plaintiffs claim that their phone’s AccuWeather app is transmitting precise data about their location at regular intervals and whenever they tap to check the weather. They say the app, which is built into the phone, can’t be disabled and that phone maker HTC is sharing the location data with advertisers that want to target users with customized ads. The plaintiffs also say HTC is failing to encrypt the data that transmits their location. According to the complaint, the AccuWeather app, which is also available for the iPad, collects location information that is more precise than necessary to provide weather information. Rather than simply collecting “coarse information” to learn that a person is in a certain part of the city, the app obtains the precise corner at which he or she is standing at a given time. The complaint says this information is useful to AccuWeather because the company is in the business of selling user profiles gleaned from smartphone data."

23 Amazing Carved Pumpkins. OK. Someone has entirely too much free time on their hands - but these are very cool. Thanks to The Daily Beast, which has all the details.

Photo Of The Day: Cumulus Congestus. It's unusual to have these vertically-stretched instability cumulus clouds in October, but a pool of unusually cold air in the upper atmosphere left skies over Duluth unusually unstable. That's snow falling out of those clouds. Photo courtesy of Shawn Thompson Photography.

Climate Stories...

Climate Researchers Warn Of Data Crisis. Nature has the story: "Climate scientists warn that critical gaps in climate data could open up after the current generation of Earth-observation satellites comes to the end of its life, with the next generation nowhere near ready to take over. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of an adequate replacement for a pair of Earth-observation satellites, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory and Glory, which failed on launch in the past two years. Earth-observation programmes will fail to provide the data continuity required for climate science unless they are more adequately managed and supported, Kevin Trenberth, a senior researcher at the US National Center for Atmospheric Sciences in Boulder, Colorado, told the World Climate Research Programme conference in Denver, Colorado, this week. "We cannot manage what we can't measure," he says."

Special Investigation: Who's Behind The "Information Attacks" On Climate Scientists? The Institute for Southern Studies has more: "This week, in a courtroom in Prince William County, Virginia, a hearing will take place that could have implications for the privacy rights of scientists at colleges and universities across the country. It's part of a lawsuit brought by the American Tradition Institute, a free-market think tank that wants the public to believe human-caused global warming is a scientific fraud. Filed against the University of Virginia, the suit seeks emails and other documents related to former professor Michael Mann, an award-winning climate scientist who has become a focus of the climate-denial movement because of his research documenting the recent spike in earth's temperature. By suing the university, the American Tradition Institute wants to make public Mann’s correspondence in an effort to find out whether he manipulated data to receive government grants, a violation of the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act. But a Facing South investigation has found that the Colorado-based American Tradition Institute is part of a broader network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation. Our investigation also finds that ATI has connections with the Koch brothers, Art Pope and other conservative donors seeking to expand their political influence."

Humans "Locked In" To Warmer World, But Can Still Avoid Dangerous Climate Change. The story from the Montreal Gazette: "Humans have "locked in" future generations to a warmer world but can still prevent "dangerous" climate change by scaling back emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, wrote scientists in a newly-released internal memorandum to the top bureaucrat at Environment Canada. “Immediate cessation of CO2 emissions . . . cannot have a large near-term effect on global temperatures,” said the memorandum, drafted in April by Environment Canada scientists Greg Flato and Elizabeth Bush. “Our past emissions have essentially ‘locked in’ the warming experienced to date, committing future generations to a warmer world. The real issue is that ongoing emissions lead to ongoing increases in atmospheric CO2 and therefore ongoing warming.”