60" rain in New York City in 2011. That's 11" wetter than New Orleans, 9" wetter than Miami.
Tornadoes in central Virginia late Thursday evening.
Weather for people in a hurry: a mix of clouds and sun today, highs in the 50s with a stiff northwest wind at 15-25 mph. A sunny start Saturday (highs near 60) gives way to increasing clouds, showers likely Saturday night as the next clipper-like cool front approaches. Skies clear Sunday, highs in the mid to upper 50s. Cooler weather returns next week (it will actually look and feel like October). Showers may pass just to our south Monday, a cold wind Tuesday giving way to a slow warming trend the latter half of next week. No major storms are in sight.
Growing Drought. Important note: this map was prepared before Wednesday's soaking rain, which dumped over .50" on much of Minnesota - not enough to dig out from the drought, but it certainly helped. As of October 11 79% of Minnesota was characterized as "abnormally dry" - the area of moderate drought had grown from 26 to 32% in the span of a week, severe drought encroaching into the southwestern suburbs of the Twin Cities. More from NOAA's Drought Monitor here.
Past Peak. Colors are fading from the Twin Cities north and west. Pockets of bright color will still be visible this weekend out west, closer to Granite Falls and Windom. My suggestion is to take a drive down Highway 61 past Red Wing, toward Lake City, Winona and the La Crosse area - there is still plenty of color along the banks of the Mississippi River. More from the Minnesota DNR.
Possible Tornado Touchdown in Washington D.C. Area Thursday Evening. Tornado watches and warnings were issued for Virginia and Maryland yesterday - unusual for mid October. More details from KUSA-TV: "TRIANGLE, Va. (WUSA) -- A 9NEWS NOW viewer sent us a picture of what he says is damage from strong winds in Triangle, Va. Thursday night. Jamel Teasley says strong wind Thursday evening knocked over a fence in Triangle Va. He says the fence is located on Meyers Drive in the Garrison Woods neighborhood off of Route 1 near Quantico. Much of the 9NEWS NOW viewing area (DC Metro area) was under a tornado warning or watch Thursday night. A suspected tornado tore the roof off a historic house in Louisa County on Thursday afternoon, says the National Weather Service. We also heard unconfirmed reports of a possible tornado touchdown in the area of I-95 and Route 234 in the Dumfries area, but a Prince William County Police spokesperson said he hadn't heard anything about a tornado touchdown."
* Suspected tornadoes touched down Thursday in Virginia, near the epicenter of the Aug. 23 earthquake. Source: USA Today.
Triple-Digit Heat Bakes Los Angeles Area. The hottest air of the season is sweeping across southern California, the result of a desert-dry offshore wind. Those winds will blow from the Pacific by the weekend, promising a cooling trend. More from AccuWeather.com: "Scorching heat gripping the Southwest today will send many thermometers in Southern California to or past the century mark, including in downtown Los Angeles. Today will be just as hot, if not slightly hotter, than Wednesday across the Southwest with a strong ridge of high pressure overhead. As was the case Wednesday, residents of Southern California will find no heat relief from the Pacific Ocean. With the air continuing to circulate from the deserts to the coast, the cooling effect of the ocean will remain shut off. That includes the beaches, and also in San Diego, where temperatures today will instead soar into the 80s to around 90. Meanwhile, highs in the 90s and lower 100s are expected throughout the Los Angeles Basin."
Drought Eases (Slightly). Recent heavy rains have helped, but exceptional drought conditions linger from New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and western Louisiana.
Significant rainfall over the past week — ranging from 3 inches to more than 8 inches — has improved drought conditions across an area from Kansas to central Texas. Improvements of one category on the U.S. Drought Monitor scale (from Extreme to Severe) have occurred across central Kansas and Oklahoma, with isolated areas of 2-category improvements (from Exceptional to Severe) across parts of Texas. Some areas received very little rain so the improvements were minimal in spatial extent. With the additional rainfall from last weekend, the following cities no longer have their driest year on record….
• Midland, Texas, received 1.33″. It is now the 2nd driest year on record through 10/10/11. Over the first 280 days of the year they only received 2.20″.
• Austin, Texas, received 2.19″. It is now the 4th driest year on record through 10/10/11.
• Childress, Texas, received 1.63″. It is now their 2nd driest year on record (6.28″), through October 10/10/11, wetter only than the 6.05″ in 1956.
Thailand Fights To Keep Bangkok Dry. AFB has more on the record floods gripping Thailand's capital city: "BANGKOK — Thai authorities battled Thursday to keep the country's worst floods in decades from inundating Bangkok, urging the city's 12 million residents not to panic after a dyke burst in the northern suburbs. Unusually heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 283 people, destroyed crops, inundated hundreds of factories and damaged the homes or livelihoods of millions of people in Thailand, according to the government. About 110,000 people around the country have sought refuge in shelters. The National Flood Relief Centre warned water up to one metre (3.3 feet) deep was expected in Rangsit, Saimai, Lamlukka and Klongluang in Bangkok's northern suburbs, advising people living in one-storey buildings to evacuate. But the authorities later reassured the public, saying they were close to repairing the broken dyke. "There is really a lot of water but it is under our control," Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said on television. "It's not at a critical level. You can be worried but don't panic." Inner Bangkok, including the main tourist districts, was not affected and conditions in most of the city remained normal."
iPhone 4S Roundup: Critics Weight In On Apple's New iPhone. Here's a good summary of the various reviews from the Huffington Post: The Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg admitted that Apple's new voice-controlled artificial intelligence feature, Siri, isn't perfect. "Siri has limitations, in addition to imperfect accuracy," wrotes Mossberg. "It can't read the contents of email. It can't provide flight information or movie times." Nevertheless, he found Siri to be the handset's "standout feature," one that set it apart from other smartphones on the market. Though Mossberg also heaped praise on the "brilliant new camera," he was less keen on the rest of the phone's innards, writing, "Apple chose to focus more on software and cloud service than on hardware." In his conclusion, he even suggested that users may be "content to skip the new hardware and just enjoy the software and cloud features with older models."
Japanese Company Offers Disturbingly-Lifelike Mask Of Client's Own Faces. Proving that there are people with more time and money than common sense, check out this story at gizmag.com: "It appears that there's a number of customers willing to pay a lot to be in possession of a lifelike replica of their face or even their whole head ... or at least, REAL-f hopes so. The Japanese company offers extremely realistic 3D models of human faces and heads made using vinyl chloride resin, based on its own technique called 3DPFs (3 Dimension Photo Forms)."
First Airline To Offer Live TV, Broadband And Mobile Phone Service. Check out this press release from Gulf Air. Do they even fly to MSP? Nope. "Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, today took delivery of its first A330-200 aircraft retrofitted with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) Global Communications Suite. The comprehensive communications and entertainment solution, ‘Sky Hub’, offers passengers onboard full broadband connectivity to access internet, mobile phone services and, for the first time in the world, a global, live television service onboard. The Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite is being installed across Gulf Air’s entire fleet of aircraft progressively."
At The End Of The Rainbow.....is an outdoor toilet? Wait, that can't be right.
Global Warming Threatens Availability Of Fresh Water Around The Globe. Here's a report from Northwestern University's Medill School: "With increasing temperatures on Earth, glaciers melt and ocean levels rise ever more rapidly, claiming coasts and causing floods. But global warming will have other serious impacts on the planet’s water resources. “A lot of these mountainous areas, including the western United States, the water resources used by the general population are largely glacial fed. Or they’re in mountain reservoirs,” said Brent Goehring, a climate scientist at Purdue University and participant in the 2011 Comer Conference on abrupt climate change. “You can kind of think of the glaciers as a natural meter reservoir. It accumulates water during the winter, and then during the summer when it melts, it lets it out at a nice consistent rate.” While the same amount of fresh water overall may be available in a given year in the absence of glaciers, the way it comes out of the systems will different."
Perry Officials Censored Climate Change Report, Mother Jones Reports. Here's the story from motherjones.com: "Rick Perry takes Texas pride in being a climate change denier—and his administration acts accordingly. Top environmental officials under Perry have gutted a recent report on sea level rise in Galveston Bay, removing all mentions of climate change. For the past decade, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which is run by Perry political appointees, including famed global warming denier Bryan Shaw, has contracted with the Houston Advanced Research Center to produce regular reports on the state of the Bay. But when HARC submitted its most recent State of the Bay publication to the commission earlier this year, officials decided they couldn't accept a report that said climate change is caused by human activity and is causing the sea level to rise. Top officials at the commission proceeded to edit the paper to censor its references to human-induced climate change or future projections on how much the bay will rise. John Anderson, the oceanographer at Rice University who wrote the chapter, provided Mother Jones with a copy of the edited document, complete with tracked changes from top TCEQ officials. You can see the cuts—which include how much sea level rise has increased over the years, as well as the statement that this rise "is one of the main impacts of global climate change"—here and embedded at the end of this story. As the document shows, most of the tracked changes came from Katherine Nelson, the assistant director in the water quality planning division. Her boss, Kelly Holligan, is listed as a reviewer on the document as well."
UN Climate Talks "Stupid And Endless" - Maldives. There story from AFB: "PARIS — The UN's talks on climate change are daft and crippled by finger-pointing and the need for consensus, the president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, was quoted on Thursday by Le Monde as saying. Nasheed also said emerging economies were as much to blame for global warming as rich nations. In an interview with the French daily, Nasheed pounded out the frustrations of vulnerable small island states with the 194-party UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "The current negotiation process is stupid, useless and endless. It is based on this principle: two parties reach an agreement, a third one comes alone and says it doesn't agree and it reduces the ambition of the others," Nasheed said. "In essence, even if we reach an agreement, it will be an agreement about nothing. It will be so diluted that it will be of no use," he said bitterly, calling for "an overhaul of international organisations." Nasheed, whose comments were reported in French, was speaking during a visit to Paris."
Global Warming May Worsen Effects Of El Nino. La Nina Effects. KQED in San Francisco has the story: "As most Californians know, El Niño is a periodic unusual warming of the surface water in the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean. Actually, that’s pretty much a lie. Most people don’t know the definition of El Niño or its mirror image, La Niña, and truthfully, most people don’t much care. What you do care about if you’re a Texan suffering through the worst one-year drought on record, or a New Yorker who had to dig out from massive snowstorms last winter (tied in part to La Niña), or a Californian who has ever had to deal with the torrential rains that trigger catastrophic mudslides (linked to El Niño), is that these natural climate cycles can elevate the odds of natural disasters where you live. At the moment, we’re now entering the second year of the La Niña part of the cycle. La Niña is one key reason why the Southwest was so dry last winter and through the spring and summer, and since La Niña is projected to continue through the coming winter, Texas and nearby states aren’t likely to get much relief."
Will Climate Change Lead To Culture Change? Here's a thought-provoking article from The Christian Science Monitor: "This will be a petty (but insightful) blog post about another author thinking about how will adapt to climate change. Paul Gilding (ex-Greenpeace thinker) anticipates that climate change and resource depletion will force us to cast away our old consumption based "American Dream" conception of the "good life" and embrace a more Berkeley lifestyle. Apparently, he believes that a silver lining of mass destruction caused by climate change is that a new culture will emerge that will drop "shopping" cold turkey. Here is a quote from his press people: "It’s time to stop just worrying about climate change, says Paul Gilding. We need instead to brace for impact because global crisis is no longer avoidable. This Great Disruption started in 2008, with spiking food and oil prices and dramatic ecological changes, such as the melting ice caps. It is not simply about fossil fuels and carbon footprints. We have come to the end of Economic Growth, Version 1.0, a world economy based on consumption and waste, where we lived beyond the means of our planet’s ecosystems and resources.The Great Disruption offers a stark and unflinching look at the challenge humanity faces-yet also a deeply optimistic message. The coming decades will see loss, suffering, and conflict as our planetary overdraft is paid; however, they will also bring out the best humanity can offer: compassion, innovation, resilience, and adaptability."
Scientists Nail Down Past Climate Record to Show High Stakes Of Global Warming. Another story from the Medill School at Northwestern University. “We have to get the science nailed on abrupt climate change,” Alley says, driving the last three words home with full-body, staccato accents. Things that happen so fast “really matter to people in the real world.” It’s imperative “to tell people honestly and realistically what is happening and why it matters,” he adds. In geologic terms, “abrupt” can describe changes that take place over centuries or millennia. But some of those shifts happen quickly– and all of them matter because they can help predict how humans are driving climate changes at a rapidly accelerating pace. “In the next two days, we’re going to see what we learned,” Alley says. Alley warmly welcomes the scientists, acknowledging Broecker and George Denton, a renowned climate scientist at the University of Maine. The three became close friends and advisers to Chicago philanthropist Gary Comer as he funded abrupt climate change research."