Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 10: "Aug-tober" (record warmth central and eastern USA)

8 days above 80 in a row so far in October in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Most impressive Twin Cities October warm spell since 1953, when there were 10 days above 80 F. during October, 8 of those in a row.

2.6" rain Sunday in Oklahoma City, a new 24-hour rainfall record for October 9.

Dallas: first 1"+ rainfall since June 21.

San Antonio, Texas area reported a tornado on Sunday. The tornado touched down on the southwest side of town, was roughly 50 yard wide, on the ground for about 1.5 miles.

Convertibles, shorts, T-shirts, kids on bikes, people complaining about the humidity...on the second weekend of October?!? I felt like I was living in a parallel universe yesterday. All those people who haven't taken their boats or docks out of the water yet are looking like geniuses. It was an incredible weekend - possibly the most summerlike October weekend many of us will ever experience. Or is it a sign of Octobers to come?

"Is this evidence of global warming, Paul?" You can't prove it scientifically, but there's probably a better than 50/50 chance that this incredible warm spell is (in fact) linked with anthropogenic climate change. For the longest time climate scientists were very careful not to link any one storm or unusual weather event to climate change. No more. Their point: background temperatures are rising; there's more water in the air, and that's going to impact day to day weather, make the extremes more frequent. Like it or not, freakish weather is becoming the norm, not the exception.

8-9 days/row above 80 in October is consistent with climate change theory, which suggests that the growing season is 2-3 weeks longer than it was a generation ago, winter is getting pushed back later into the year, significant snow often holding off until November, not October. But it's still problematic linking any one pattern, storm or even warm spell to an increase in greenhouse gases floating overhead.

There's little doubt that (as a rough rule of thumb) autumns are getting longer and milder over the Northern Tier state of the USA, from Maine to Michigan to Minnesota and Montana. That's right, only the states that start with an "M". The last 10 Novembers have been warm enough to play golf in the Twin Cities. Something is happening, and this recent spell of July in October has a lot of us scratching our heads, trying to connect the dots. Definite proof of climate change? Probably not - but if the 97% of climate scientists who believe we're contributing to a warmer, wetter, stormier climate are correct - we can expect more Octobers like this in the future.

"Aug-tober" Continues. Low to mid 80s on October 9? Remarkable. This has been the most amazing start to October anyone can recall - weather more typical of July and August than October. Highs ranged from 63 at Alexandria to 79 at St. Cloud, 83 in the Twin Cities (84 in St. Paul and 85 at Eden Prairie).

Saturday Records. Check out this interactive map, coutesy of NOAA and Ham Weather, showing record highs (and warm nighttime lows) over the central USA on Saturday. Meanwhile much of the west is cold and snowy.

Sunday Records:

Texas: San Antonio 3.06″, Waco 5.83″

Rhode Island: Providence 86
Connecticut: Hartford 85
Massachusetts: Boston 87, Logan International Airport 83
Vermont: Burlington 80
Maine: Caribou 82 *all time high for Oct. old record of 79 set in 2005. Bangor 84, Portland 85
Michigan: Houghton Lake 80, Sault Ste Marie 80, Alpena 83, Traverse City 81
Wisconsin: Wausau 79, Rhinelander 81, Eau Claire 81, Stevens Point 81, Antigo 79, Marshfield 79, Appleton 77
New York: Islip 85, Laguardia 85, Kennedy 87
New Jersey: Newark 88

"On Saturday Chicago received its seventh straight day of 100 percent available sunshine. This tied the record for the longest October cloudless streak which was originally set in 1934. Prospects for a record setting eighth consecutive day of maximum sunshine remain high as a large high pressure over the eastern U.S. is expected to keep clouds west of the area through Sunday. The longest streak of cloudless skies ever recorded in Chicago was a 10 day period from July 21st through the 30th of 1916." - from the Chicago Weather Center.

Torrential Rains Across Florida. Check out some of the Doppler radar rainfall estimates over Florida, as much as 12-14" north of Orlando. Map courtesy of NOAA - thanks to Mark Vogan for sharing this (via Facebook).

Ski Resorts Opening Up. From Oregon and Washington state to Tahoe to Colorado, ski resorts are opening a few weeks early, thanks to the premature snowstorm that dumped 8-18" snow across above 6,000 feet over the weekend. More from AccuWeather: "Skiers are on the slopes today at the Wolf Creek resort in Colorado. The web page reports that they have had 8 inches of new snow for a total of 46 inches so far. They will be open Sunday and Monday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. MDT (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT). There are three lifts open and trails for all levels of experience. They will open again next Saturday and Sunday."

Fickle Front. The atmospheric trouble-zone separating near-record warmth over much of Minnesota and Wisconsin from seasonably cool weather across the Dakotas and Montana has gotten hung up to our west. Repeated waves of low pressure rippling north along this frontal boundary have prevented the cool surge from pushing east, keeping MInnesota in the "warm sector". That should mean highs near 80 once again today, 70s Tuesday and Wednesday. It won't really begin to feel like October again until late Thursday and Friday. Satellite courtesy of WeatherTap (subscription required).

The Most Amazing Time Lapse Video I've Ever Seen. It's worth 2 minutes of your time, and you won't regret clicking on this link; a subtle reminder of how stunningly beautiful the western USA is. You may even get an urge to schlepp your own SLR camera outside and make your own visual magic. Here's more from "Landscapes: Volume 2 is the second of a three part series (probably). Every frame of this video is a raw still from a Canon 5D2 DSLR and processed with Adobe software. In Volume 2 I again show off my beautiful home state of Arizona and I also made several trips to Utah. This video has some iconic landmarks that we have seen before. I felt that showing them again with motion controlled HDR and/or night timelapse would be a new way to see old landmarks. Sales Pitch: I would now have to say that my timelapse skill set is very complete. The amount of knowledge I have gained through research, testing, and shooting experience is astounding. From moon phases to high dynamic range to motion control rigs to noise reduction, you would have a tough time finding someone with more overall knowledge of timelapse. If you need help with your next timelapse project you can reach me at 888-444-2739 or"

Climate Stories....

World Without Ice. Here's an amazing article from National Geographic - a truly worthy read. The Earth has warmed abruptly before. 56 million years ago a mysterious surge of carbon sent atmospheric temperatures soaring. More details: "Earth has been through this before. Not the same planetary fever exactly; it was a different world the last time, around 56 million years ago. The Atlantic Ocean had not fully opened, and animals, including perhaps our primate ancestors, could walk from Asia through Europe and across Greenland to North America. They wouldn't have encountered a speck of ice; even before the events we're talking about, Earth was already much warmer than it is today. But as the Paleocene epoch gave way to the Eocene, it was about to get much warmer still—rapidly, radically warmer. The cause was a massive and geologically sudden release of carbon. Just how much carbon was injected into the atmosphere during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, as scientists now call the fever period, is uncertain. But they estimate it was roughly the amount that would be injected today if human beings burned through all the Earth's reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas. The PETM lasted more than 150,000 years, until the excess carbon was reabsorbed. It brought on drought, floods, insect plagues, and a few extinctions. Life on Earth survived—indeed, it prospered—but it was drastically different. Today the evolutionary consequences of that distant carbon spike are all around us; in fact they include us. Now we ourselves are repeating the experiment."

Heatwaves And Blizzards: Which Is The Best Evidence For Global Warming? Here's an excerpt from a National Geographic story: "In winter everyone notices a blizzard – if your car is buried in snow, the highways are in chaos, and no-one can get to work, this creates a sense of crisis and lasting memories. Hence the so-called ‘snowmaggedon’ events in 2010, which were used by some conservatives as evidence against the reality of global warming. This stands to reason, of course – if the world is getting warmer, why is it snowing so much in winter? The answer lies in what we don’t notice – those mild days in winter when no snow lies, and the weather feels strangely springlike, even in January and February. According to the GRL paper, when taken in the context of the last 63 northern hemisphere winters, those of 2009-10 and 2010-11 were more unusual for their warmth than for their cold. For cold extremes, they ranked 21st and 34th respectively, whilst for warm ‘snaps’ they came in at 12th and 4th. Unfortunately, when ‘common sense’ comes up against science, many of us stick with our common sense – even when statistically our own perceptions can be shown to be almost certainly wrong. Perhaps that is part of the reason why those arguing for stronger U.S. domestic action on global warming have such a high mountain to climb." (photo above courtesy of

8 Examples Of Human Fingerprints On Climate Change. Grist Magazine has a compelling article (written by climate scientists Joseph Romm)  that launches into evidence that man is having a significant impact on climate change (this is more than just "natural variability): "Given the popularity of my recent "Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts," which collected and summarized dozens of posts covering some 50 scientific articles, I thought I would occasionally repost updated versions of other important pieces and reviews. Last year, physicist John Cook, who runs the must-read website Skeptical Science, published "The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism." It's a good introduction to global warming science and skepticism. He sent me the eight figures of the "human fingerprints on climate change," which I repost below. The clever deniers these days don't deny the painfully obvious reality that the planet is warming or that climate is changing -- they simply deny that humans are a major cause. But in fact there is an overabundance of evidence that humans are warming the planet and changing the climate, so much so that the U.S. National Academy of Sciences labels as "settled facts" that "the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities."

Bill McKibben On Tar Sands, Obama, Geoengineering And Population Growth. Here's a timely story from The Guardian's Environment Blog:

"LH: What is your ultimate message to Obama, but, perhaps more importantly, those that might vote for him next year?

BM: The ultimate message is just "stop this pipeline". It is a serious deal. It's not just some token thing. It is the second largest pool of carbon on the planet and it's utter folly to expand the oil operation there. When your best federal climate scientist Jim Hansen says heavy tapping of the tar sands means game over for the climate, you, as the president, are paid to pay attention to stuff like that.

LH: Would this be a bigger failure on Obama's record than, say, Copenhagen?

BM: The biggest failure in environmental terms was the failure to get, or even try to get, serious climate legislation and the second is the failure to move the diplomatic ball at all. But in both those cases the president can with some accuracy blame Congress for at least part of this failure. Our Congress is inane at the moment and hard to work with. I have some sympathy for the guy when trying to persuade people like Jim Inhofe to do the right thing."

Chinese Skeptics See Global Warming As U.S. Conspiracy. Glad to see we're not the only nation of conspiracy theorists. Here's a head-scratcher of an article from the Sydney Morning Herald: "BEIJING: It's not only Western leaders like Julia Gillard and Barack Obama who face fierce resistance from climate sceptics as they try to lay out policies to tackle global warming. In China, where carbon emissions have surged despite tough government constraints and targets, President Hu Jintao is having to stare down claims that human-induced climate change is an elaborate American conspiracy. ''Global warming is a bogus proposition,'' says Zhang Musheng, one of China's most influential intellectuals and a close adviser to a powerful and hawkish general in the People's Liberation Army, Liu Yuan. Mr Zhang told the Herald that global warming was an American ruse to sell green energy technology and thereby claw its way out of its deep structural economic problems. A year ago Mr Hu committed to lower the ''carbon intensity'' of economic output by 40-45 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels. China appears on track to meet the target but that may still not be enough to save the world from destructive climate change, thanks to faster-than-expected Chinese economic growth."