Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 30: More Rainfall Records Fall

Early Morning Advisories. Both the Winter Weather Advisory and the Freezing Rain Advisory expire at 6 am this morning - the biggest concern is freezing rain/drizzle, rain freezing on contact with sub-freezing surfaces, mainly south/west of the Twin Cities. The metro area may pick up a coating to 1" of slushy snow today, mixed with a little freezing drizzle at times. With temperatures at or just above freezing I expect most roads to remain wet. Bridges and secondary roads, especially outside the metro area, may be icy.

Road Conditions. The University of Wisconsin has a useful site displaying road conditions across the entire Upper Midwest. Yellow implies "slippery/wet/icy stretches". For the latest update click here.

Big Swings. After peaking at or just above 40 New Year's Eve a vigorous cold front will knock highs into the teens Monday, but any (fresh) air will be brief. We start to warm up by the middle of next week; highs may reach the 40s again by Thursday of next week.

10 days above 50 so far this month in Kansas City, the most since 2006 when the city experienced 13 days above 50.

Cleveland still under 10″ of snow/yr. Since 1950 its happened 15 times! (source: Scott Sabol, Twitter).

2nd wettest year on record in Chicago. On December 27 Chicago surpassed 1983 as the second wettest year on record since 1885. Following is a list of the Top 5 Wettest Years in Chicago:

1. 2008   50.86"
2. 2011   49.41" (through December 27)
3. 1983   49.35"
4. 1970   46.09"
5. 1954   45.92"

The year stands only 1.45" behind 2008. But given the forecast through Saturday it is highly likely that 2011 will remain as the second wettest year on record. Source: Chicago office of the National Weather Service.

"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to." - Bill Vaughn

Snowfall As Of December 29. Check out the difference in snowcover across the Lower 48 states from 2010 (left) to 2011 (right). Last year at this time nearly half of the USA had snow on the ground. This year: less than a third of the nation. Source: NOAA.

A Fresh Coating For The Gunflint Trail. WeatherNation meteorologist Bryan Karrick snapped this photo, boasting 5.5" of new snow on the Gunflint Trail from an Alberta Clipper Wednesday night. More amounts from the Duluth NWS:

Pacific Northwest Rainfall Amounts:

2.78"  Skokomish, WA
2.06"  Coos Bay, OR
2.04"  Langlois, OR

New Ohio State Rainfall Record:

76.1"  Cheviot (Hamilton County). Old record was 70.82", set in 1870 at Little Mountain, Ohio.
73.12"  Cincinnati, Ohio: new yearly rainfall record (old record was 57.58" in 1990).

Avalanche Warning For Wyoming. The Bridger- Teton National Forest Avalanche Center has issued an avalanche warning until midnight Friday. High winds and heavy snowfall have prompted this warning. Natural and man made avalanches are likely to occur. Source: National Weather Service.

"Atmospheric River" Brings Flood Threat To Oregon. From NOAA's Visualization Laboratory: "As a plume of moisture travels across the Pacific towards the Pacific Northwest, the National Weather Service has issued flood outlooks for four counties in Oregon. Up to 10 inches may fall over the next 24 hours in Curry County, which may result in rapid rises in rivers and streams in the region. The newly operational GOES-15 satellite’s improved water vapor sensor can see such plumes as they traverse the Pacific basin. In this image, taken on December 29, 2011 at 1830z, areas of the atmosphere containing the most moisture are colored in bright green, whereas dry areas are colored brown."

Downslope Winds. Here's a post from the WeatherNation TV Facebook page, courtesy of Greg Berman: "Downsloping winds along the Front Range in Colorado are boosting temperatures to almost 20 degrees above normal. Here in Lyons, Colorado I have recorded a 64mph gust on two occasions this morning. Current temp at 1:15pm Mountain Time is 60 degrees. This picture taken from the Lyons Cam is completely different from yesterday when our cliff was covered in snow. The downsloping, warming winds have eaten away most of the snow in the last 12 to 15 hours."

Hot-Lanta Frost. Here's a photo from Brett Rosner, via Twitter, who writes: "What is this cold, icy stuff? Not cool, Georgia. Not cool."

Land, Sea And Air Travel Left Reeling By Scotland's Storms. The British Isles have seen punishing storms in recent weeks; here's an update from "SEVERE winds of nearly 90mph and heavy rain battered parts of Scotland yesterday, causing widespread travel disruption for commuters returning to work after the Christmas holidays. Bridges were closed to traffic and a host of ferry services and flights were scrapped due to the gale-force winds, while tourist attractions and sporting fixtures fell foul of the weather. Flooding and fallen trees caused problems on roads across the country, although a return to the chaos of earlier this month, when gusts of up to 120mph caused widespread damage and disruption, did not come to pass. Conditions are expected to improve in the lead up to Hogmanay, although the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for the Highlands, Orkney and Shetland for today, with very strong north-westerly winds forecast, possibly causing travel disruption."

Photo credit: "High winds battered the promenade in Largs, with waves crashing over, while these two dogs were left looking a bit windswept by the weather. Photos: Robert Perry."

Sendong Was A Weak Storm, Ranked Among Most Destructive In PHL History. Here's an update from GMA News Online: "Tropical Storm Sendong was a bizarre weather creature —  a "weak" storm by the standards of PAGASA yet it claimed more lives than any typhoon in more than a decade. Its destructiveness came from the rare and "very extreme" amount of rainfall dumped on northern Mindanao on Dec. 16. According to a new analysis of the storm by the scientific institution Manila Observatory, the 180 millimeters (mm) of rain that fell in Cagayan de Oro on that day far exceeded the previous record of 142mm in 1999. Rainfall has been measured in the Lumbia weather station in Cagayan de Oro since 1977. The same study by the Manila Observatory cited historical evidence  that storms rarely make landfall in Mindanao. That fact has been used to explain why local officials and the public didn't show much of a response to warnings about Sendong's pending arrival. The Manila Observatory noted that in the last 15 years, only six tropical cyclones crossed Mindanao, and only one in 10 years in December." Photo credit here.

Top 5 Extreme International Weather Events Of 2011. The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has the story: "Earlier this week, we looked at the top five extreme weather events to impact the U.S. this year. Not confined to any particular borders, Mother Nature also brought extreme conditions to other parts of the world in 2011, including deadly storms, flooding and prolonged drought. Globally, extreme weather events were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, not to mention billions of dollars in damages. 

Related link: NASA scientist warns “climate dice” loaded for more extreme weather

Let’s take a look at the top 5 extreme weather events to occur outside the U.S. in 2011:

1. Drought in East Africa

By far the deadliest natural disaster of the year, a severe and prolonged drought in Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya triggered a food crisis in July 2011."

How 2011 Became A "Mind-Boggling" Year Of Extreme Weather. Here's a very good summary of 2011, the year that may go down in the record books as America's most extreme year of weather, even more violent than 2010. PBS has the details: "From snowstorms to floods and tornadoes, severe weather wreaked havoc across the United States this year, with 2011 marking far more extreme weather events than a typical year. Hari Sreenivasan discusses the science behind this year of extreme weather with NOAA's Kathryn Sullivan and Weather Underground's Jeff Masters."

Top 10 Photo Galleries Of 2011: Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Maniacs And More. has the story: "2011 was a year made for photographs. Frankly, if we didn’t have the photographic evidence for some of these events, who would have believed that New England experienced a hurricane that caused widespread flooding, an unusually big autumn snowstorm and a tornado that ripped a 39 mile-long ‘Path of Fury’ through nine towns -- all within a span of a few months. Not surprisingly, The Republican's photographs of these natural disasters dominate the list of the Top 10 photo galleries of the year. Readers also found time to check out the entertaining side of the Pioneer Valley: from the annual Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade to Southwick's Rugged Maniac Race, the photos show that Western Massachusetts knows how to play hard!" Photo courtesy of John Suchocki, The Republican.

2011 In Review: Historic, Deadly And Costly Storms. The story from "For many 2011 will be remembered as a year of wild weather. Storms were historic, deadly, and costly. 2011 started out with a lot of slipping and sliding. A series of snow and ice storms battered the country.  In the southeast, where communities are not equipped to handle the wrath of winter, roads went untreated and air passengers went nowhere, and it was only January. February brought a battery of storms that dumped snow from the Plains to Maine. "Every time I go out there's a couple more inches and it's not letting up," said one observer. When all that snow began to melt and the spring rains arrived, major rivers in the U.S. were overwhelmed."

6 Years Later, Katrina Victims Fight FEMA Debts. has the story: "NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When the Federal Emergency Management Agency mailed out 83,000 debt notices this year to victims of Hurricane Katrina and other 2005 storms, one of the letters showed up in David Bellinger's mailbox. Bellinger, who is blind, needed a friend to read it and break the news that FEMA wants him to pay back more than $3,200 in federal aid he received after Katrina. "I nearly had a stroke," recalls the 63-year-old, who moved to Atlanta after the storm wrecked his New Orleans home. "I'm totally blind. I subsist entirely on a Social Security disability check. If I have to pay this money back, it would pretty much wipe out all the savings I have." Photo above courtesy of NOAA.

"Be always at war with  your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." Benjamin Franklin. Photo above courtesy of Wikipedia.

"Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits." - author unknown

"Redneck Ice Fishing". Please don't try this at home.

Photo credit:

Climate Stories...

As Climate Change Worsens, Scientists Feel Increasing Pressure To Speak Out. has the story: "Factors contributing to climate change are moving faster than predicted and pushing us toward planetary conditions unlike any humans have ever known—this was one of the salient themes to emerge from this month's meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest gathering of earth and space scientists. Some scientists think we've already crossed that boundary and are, as Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, said, "in a very different world than we have ever seen before."

Photo credit: "James Hansen of NASA, one of the most outspoken scientists when it comes to advocating for climate policies, participates in civil disobedience protests against the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington D.C./Credit: Rick Reinhard, flickr"

Global Warming: Wildlife Facing Extreme Weather Risks. The Summit County Citzens Voice (a consistently good source of climate news) has the story: "SUMMIT COUNTY — Extreme weather in 2011 may or may not be linked directly with global warming, but most climate scientists agree that droughts, flooding and other anomalous events are likely to become more frequent in coming decades. Along with potential impacts to human civiliation, the planet’s wildlife is also facing  an unprecedented threat from natural disasters exacerbated by climate change — with no good way to identify vulnerable animal populations, according to a new paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution."

Photo credit: "Ice-dependent species like penguins are at risk from climate change. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN."

Bark Beetles, Climate Change And Our Future. The story from The Vancouver Sun: "Recently, a classmate from the University of B.C. asked what I thought about Canada backing out of the Kyoto agreement, and if there was any connection between the insatiable bark beetles infesting the province's forests and the rising temperatures on Earth. First, trees are effectively the greatest CO2 warehouses ever created. For every metric ton of wood grown, 1.5 metric tons of CO2 is absorbed and one metric ton of oxygen is released. Bark beetles like the mountain pine or spruce beetles and lightning-induced fires are nature's emissaries of change. All forests must undergo a natural process of aging, facilitating regeneration - new life."

Photo credit: "Bark beetles have damaged pine trees in the Sawtooth Ridge area above the Methow Valley in the North Cascades. The beetles are whittling away at high-elevation trees once thought mostly safe from bugs. (Steve Ringman/Seattle Times/MCT)"

Quebec On The Verge Of Catastrophic Climate Change, Experts Say. The story from the "Record floods, melting permafrost, shoreline erosion and intense winds caused havoc for thousands of Quebecers as 2011 proved to be yet another year of higher than normal temperatures. These higher temperatures add to the credibility of climate models that have predicted the march of global warming will accelerate the more greenhouse gases we pump into the atmosphere, scientists say. “It is striking that over the last 10 to 15 years we didn’t have a single season colder than normal,” said Alain Bourque, director of climate change impacts and adaptation at Quebec’s climate change research institute Ouranos. “That is a clear indication that Canada’s climate is heating up beyond any reasonable doubt.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 29: March in December (who will see a white New Year's Day?)

9th warmest December on record for the Twin Cities. Based on the first 28 days of this month, and the forecast through Saturday, there's a good chance this will be the 9th warmest Christmas since 1873. Source: MN State Climate Office.

2002. Last year we went through the month of December with no subzero temperatures. There have been 8 Decembers in the last 120 years where the mercury stayed above 0 for the entire month of December. Details below.

"Winter is nature's way of saying, "up yours." - Robert Byrne

We’ve seen historic events of nearly every weather category," says Vaccaro. "So in terms of snow storms, and hurricanes and floods and droughts, all of these events this year ranked in the top three or even the highest ever recorded.” The extreme weather affected millions of people, claimed 1,000 lives, resulted in 8,000 injuries and totaled more than $52 billion in economic losses. The most costly, according to David Brown, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was the year-long drought that continues to grip southern plains states." - from a Voice of America story below.

Breaking News: Accumulating Snow? No, it won't be a major, knock-down, drag-out snowstorm, but a clipper-like system may trigger a period of rain changing to snow Saturday night, conveniently timed for New Year's Eve festivities. It's still early to be throwing inch-amounts around, but I could see a couple inches of slushy snow after midnight Saturday night. Roads should be mainly wet getting to New Year's parties Saturday evening, but they may be snow-covered and icy for the trip home after midnight.

Warm Second Half Of The Year In The Twin Cities. Here's a press release I received from Pete Boulay at the MN State Climate Office yesterday: "It's been a warm second half of 2011 in the Twin Cities with a preliminary average temperature of 56.3 degrees. This is 4.8 degrees above the 1981-2010 average of 51.5 degrees. The second half of 2011 was so warm in fact that July to December will finish as the second warmest second half of the year on record for the Twin Cities going back to 1873. The only July-December period that was warmer is 1931 with an average of 56.8 degrees. 

The last three months from October to December in the Twin Cities will finish the 3rd warmest on record back to 1873 with a preliminary average of 40.5 degrees, falling just behind 2001 with 40.8 degrees. 1931 claims the most mild spot with 41.6 degrees."

* Photo above courtesy of David Joles at the Star Tribune.

No Subzero Temperatures In December? Not As Unusual As You Might Think. We've had no nights below zero this month, which is unusual, but hardly unprecedented. Consulting meteorologist Dean DeHarpporte in Eden Prairie dropped me a line last night with some timely information. Thanks Dean!

"I was surprised to find so many zero-less Decembers. It turns out that there have been 8 Decembers in the past 120 years that stayed above zero for the whole month:"

1913     1918     1952     1954     1959     1974     2001     2002     2011

"In 1952 and 1959, it went below zero in November, so there have been only 6 years, up to now, when zero had not been reached before January. And by this measure, our Decembers this past decade havent been any less severe in the 2000's than they were in the 1950s. However, in the 50's we averaged 6.2 subzero December days and in the 2000s we averaged only 5.2."

Lack Of Snow Starting To Impact Tourism Over Northern Wisconsin. The Pierce County Herald has the story: "EAGLE RIVER - It's called northern Wisconsin's most valuable asset, and it's in short supply right now. A lack of snow is keeping many folks away from places where they'd normally be snowmobiling, snow-shoeing, or cross-country skiing. According to the National Weather Service, the only place in the north with a decent snow-cover is Winchester in Vilas County, with eight inches on the ground. Other places have three-inches or less. And with rising temperatures later in the week, even that snow cover could be in jeopardy. Kathy Rasmussen, whose family owns a resort near Cable, tells the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram that the lack of snow is quote, "like a farmer if they don't have rain." Lisa Marshall of the state Tourism Department says it will be a while before officials know how the weather affects businesses. She says it will certainly have an impact on smaller places where the motels rely on snowmobilers."

Misery Loves Company. Even the mountains of Utah are suffering from a lack of snow; snowfall about 60% of average as of yesterday. More details: "Snowbasin Resort, seen here in a photo taken Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011, had good trail coverage on Christmas Day thanks to its extensive snowmaking systems. But the surrounding hills are brown, not white as most storms have missed Utah this winter because of Western weather patterns. A year ago snow was falling in Utah at about twice the average rate. This season the state's snowpack is just about 60 percent of average. (AP Photo/Lynn DeBruin)"

Additional Daylight Since December 22. Yes, the days are getting longer. A little longer - if you like sunshine (and warmth) things are moving in the right direction, right?

1:42 minutes added in the Twin Cities.
1:29 minutes added in Chicago.
1:24 minutes added in New York City.
:55 minutes added in Houston.
1:06 minutes added in Los Angeles.
7:22 minutes added in Fairbanks, Alaska.

"Whatever you are be a good one." - Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday Rainfall Records:

2.05" Meridian, MS. Old record: 1.74" in 1973.
2.20" Cape Hatteras, NC. Old record: 1.11" in 1991.
1.21" Newark, NJ. Old record: .73" in 1944.
1.17" Laguardia, NY. Old record: .81" in 1964.
1.10" Columbus, OH. Old record: .99" in 1958.
73.28" precipitation at Lancaster, PA. That's 32" more than average. Credit: Volker Kruhoeffer.

A Lighter Shade of Brown. I can't believe it's December 29. Based on NASA's "MODIS" satellite image above the map looks like something out of late March or early April. The swirls of white from Wisconsin into the Ohio Valley are clouds, lake-effect plumes of cloud cover and snow flurries/snow showers forming downwind of the Great Lakes.

Who Will See A "White New Year's Day?" The latest GFS model shows accumulating snow from far northern Minnesota and Wisconsin into the Great Lakes (spiked by lake effect), with a series of clippers dumping significant snow on upstate New York and northern New England. Map courtesy of NOAA and WeatherCaster.

Potentially Plowable Up North. Although any precipitation in the immediate metro area will fall into the nuisance range, a few inches of snow may fall from a series of Alberta Clippers up north. As much as 2-4" of snow may fall from International Falls and Hibbing into Duluth by Saturday night.

Maps Looking (A Little) Snowier By Mid January. The GFS 500mb wind forecast for January 13 shows the westerlies finally buckling into a trough of low pressure out west - enough cold air potentially in place for a snow event close to home by Jan. 14, give or take. It's a long way off, but I'm finally detecting some signals that might point to accumulating snow for the Upper Midwest by mid January. It's still more than 2 weeks away - no guarantees, but that dust-covered snowblower may finally see some action within 2-3 weeks.

Alaska Is Having A Real Winter. It's a rough rule of thumb, and doesn't work all the time, but when Alaska is bitterly cold Minnesota (and much of the Lower 48) tends to be warmer than average - and vice versa: a mild Alaska usually means we're suffering through bitter cold. Here's a Facebook post from the National Weather Service: "So far, this has been a fall/winter of above normal snowfall for many locations across Alaska. How has your location fared? Anchorage has already received over 2 feet more snow than usual. Yakutat is almost 6 feet above normal, and Valdez is 7.5 FEET above normal. In contrast, Fairbanks is almost a foot below normal for this point of the season. There are still several more months of winter to come!"

U.S. Sets Extreme Weather Records In 2011. Those alarmists over at Voice of America have the story: "That tornado was among 1,600 that crisscrossed the nation in 2011. Twelve weather-related disasters accounted for $1 billion or more each in economic losses, a new record, according to Chris Vaccaro, spokesman for the National Weather Service.“We’ve seen historic events of nearly every weather category," says Vaccaro. "So in terms of snow storms, and hurricanes and floods and droughts, all of these events this year ranked in the top three or even the highest ever recorded.” The extreme weather affected millions of people, claimed 1,000 lives, resulted in 8,000 injuries and totaled more than $52 billion in economic losses. The most costly, according to David Brown, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was the year-long drought that continues to grip southern plains states." Photo above courtesy of the AP.

Fun With The "Arctic Oscillation" (AO). Meteorologists look at various indexes that quantify blocking patterns in the atmosphere; the tendency for weather patterns to get stuck in a persistent rut. Remember, the more positive the AO index, the stronger the westerlies howing across North America, the less chance bitter, arctic air has to penetrate southward into the Lower 48 States. The AO index has been strongly positive for much of autumn across North America. Graph above courtesy of CPC, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Outlook: Trending Milder Into Mid January. CPC's forecast of the AO Index shows a strong bias toward positive values looking ahead the next 14 days. A dip below zero would be a tip-off that the pattern is (finally) changing, with easing westerly jet stream winds increasing the potential for bitter air to come sailing south. We'll see a few (fleeting) cold fronts, but no sustained, numbing air is in sight through the first 12-14 days of January. Amazing.

Where's The Cold Air? People have been asking me, "Paul, what's it going to take for a signficant snowfall?" The short answer: a fresh burst of arctic air. Our biggest storms spin up along the leading edge of bitter air. The colder the air, the larger the temperature differential, the greater the potential for a major storm, especially if a). it tracks south/east of Minnesota, and b). moves slow enough to tap moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Mid afternoon Wednesday temperatures were well below zero over northern Canada, but there's still no overwhelming evidence that this numbing air is headed south in the forseeable future. Map courtesy of Ham Weather.

Milder Than Average January? Based on the trends we're witnessing across North America (persistent westerly winds in spite of La Nina) a milder than normal January forecast from CPC (Climate Prediction Center) seems like a fairly safe bet. No arctic air is imminent, although I can't believe we'll go through the entire winter without a handful of bitter outbreaks. For now it looks like any heavy-duty shivering has been pushed back into the latter half of January and February. Still too early to write off winter just yet.

Year In Wild Weather: 2011. MyFoxOrlando has a good recap of one forgettable year: "From deadly tornadoes to wicked winter storms, folks all across the country had plenty to deal with in 2011. From hurricanes to an unexpected nor'easter, the headlines in two-thousand-eleven were filled with stories of wild weather and natural disasters. A busy year for firefighters in the west and southwest with triple-digit temperatures and dry conditions sparking thousands of wildfires in Texas, the most devastating blaze in the state's history -- the Bastrop wildfire -- destroying over 30,000 acres. And a deadly year for tornadoes, dangerous twisters ripping across the south back in April reducing thousands of homes to rubbles and killing more than 300 people across seven states. In Alabama alone, more than 200 people were killed."

2011 In Washington D.C. : Warm With Extreme Weather Aplenty. Jason Samenow, meteorologist extraordinaire at the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, takes a look back at a wild year of weather for America's capital: "Following 2010’s historic weather extremes in Washington (images), headlined by the snowiest winter and hottest summer on record, it seemed unlikely 2011 could rival it. While the summer fell just shy of 2010’s broiling benchmark and the winter was not nearly as snowy, a combination of a memorable 2011 weather events left their mark. From the crippling January 26 snowstorm to the unprecedented heat in July to the tropical torrents of late August and September, 2011 dealt the region a series of punishing weather blows."

Hurricane Irene Didn't Stir Up Too Much Trouble In The Chesapeake Bay, Scientists Say. has the story: "Scientists say the huge sediment plume that lumbered down Chesapeake Bay following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee didn’t cause the widespread damage they feared. The Susquehanna Flats, a circular area where the Susquehanna River meets the bay, was perhaps the biggest area of concern. Scientists feared the plume, which stretched dozens of miles, would destroy underwater grass beds used by blue crabs and other organisms to feed and nest. “We were incredibly surprised at how much of the grass beds remained on the Flats,” Robert Orth, a Virginia Institute of Marine Science professor, said in a statement issued by the Chesapeake Bay Program." Photo above courtesy of NASA.

And The Angry Waters Rose. More fallout from Hurricane Irene, this story excerpt courtesy of Albany's "When the rains came, most of us watched the deluge out the window and made sandwiches for supper. Our neighbors by creeks in the Catskills and along riverbanks stood soaking wet as floodwaters consumed their homes. For most of us, Irene was little more than a headache. For many others, it was the 500-year-flood, the storm of the century. Entire lives washed downstream. Houses and horses. Cars and cattle. School buses and bridge trusses. Then, mercifully, the sun came out. People piled their washing machines, entire wardrobes and all the living-room furniture on the curb. Any community can be measured by how it responds to tragedy. Irene, and then Lee, brought us together. The tropical storms — the remnants of two hurricanes that roared up the East Coast — dumped a foot of rain on some places."

"Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise." - author unknown.

How To Deal With Storm-Damaged Trees. has some good advice about how to deal with downed trees after a major storm. I know, what's a "storm"? "For consumers seeking a tree service company to help them with downed or damaged trees, the Oregon Department of Forestry offers these tips:

• Hire a company that is bonded and insured and that has a certified arborist.

• Beware of door-knockers, whose low prices may ultimately prove costly. Take your time to select a reputable company, and avoid hiring anyone who will top a tree.

• Since arborists are in high demand after severe storms, it may pay to wait a while if your tree isn't an imminent hazard
. "
* Photo above courtesy of The Oregonian.

Top 10 Reasons Why Large Companies Fail To Keep Their Best Talent. Here's an article from Forbes:

"1. Big Company Bureaucracy. This is probably the #1 reason we hear after the fact from disenchanted employees. However, it’s usually a reason that masks the real reason. No one likes rules that make no sense. But, when top talent is complaining along these lines, it’s usually a sign that they didn’t feel as if they had a say in these rules. They were simply told to follow along and get with the program. No voice in the process and really talented people say “check please.”

2. Failing to Find a Project for the Talent that Ignites Their Passion. Big companies have many moving parts — by definition. Therefore, they usually don’t have people going around to their best and brightest asking them if they’re enjoying their current projects or if they want to work on something new that they’re really interested in which would help the company."

  iPhone 5 Rumors Start Heating Up. has the latest. Yep, I'm an Apple fan-boy. That's one of my better qualities, come to think of it: "The second round of iPhone 5 rumors has officially begun, speculating a redesigned front rim in rubber or plastic, possibly to connect the face to a new aluminum back plate or to cover a new antenna system. BGR says a source close to the company claims the iPhone will launch next fall, around the time the iPhone 4S launched this year. Pop Herald is predicting a 4-inch screen, which would require app developers to overhaul their products to avoid poor resolution."

More iRumors: New iPad3 On Steve Jobs' February 24 Birthday? The story from "FocusTaiwan reports (via 9to5Mac) that Apple pushing its manufacturing partners to meet deadlines that would allow the company to launch the iPad on Steve Jobs' birthday, February 24th. A local Chinese-language newspaper reported Friday that iPad3 might be launched on Feb. 24 to mark the anniversary of the birth of Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs. Citing sources close to Taiwanese makers in the iPad3 supply chain, the Economic Daily News said the gadget could be launched in mid-first quarter of next year or by the end of next March. According to the report, workers at several iPad component suppliers as well as manufacturing partner Foxconn will have limited time off during the usual Lunar New Year holiday. The Lunar New Year holiday itself falls on January 23rd next year, with workers generally receiving a number of other days off from work around that date." has some details on what features may be coming in the new iPad: "But Apple’s plans for the actual devices remain more opaque. Here are a few possibilities:    

Siri: Apple’s “digital assistant” is a prime selling point of the new iPhone 4S, and rumors have circulated for some time that Apple plans to build it into a television set scheduled for launch either in late 2012 or early 2013. If Apple’s truly focused on making Siri a big part of its ecosystem, it stands to reason that the technology will find its way to the iPad sooner rather than later.

Retina Display: Various Apple-centric sources, including the blog 9to5Mac, have compiled rumors over the past few months indicating that Apple is planning on some sort of higher resolution display for the next iPad, possibly of the same quality as the Retina Display currently available in later-model iPhones.
Improved Camera: The iPhone 4S features an 8-megapixel camera, which could also find its way into the iPad 3."

The Scientific Formula For Predicting A Hit Song. I have a son who's an accomplished musician (plays a mean lead guitar). Not sure if you can quanitfy creativity, but this article at caught my eye: "You hear a new song. Will it be a hit or a flop? Researchers from Bristol University in the U.K. say they can now tell you - well, sort of. After studying the Top 40 singles charts over the last 50 years and examining the audio characteristics for hits and flops, the team has come up with a formula as to what makes for a successful song and used it to devise software that "predicts" hits. The next step is a web app to allow budding musicians to score their own songs. The prediction characteristics include musical features such as time signature, tempo, beat-variation, "danceability," as well as the harmonic simplicity of the songs and how noisy/loud they are. Importantly, these variables are examined for how they shift over time so in a sense, it is a shifting formula."

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." - Peter Drucker.

Toqua Lake. Look closely and you can see thousands of geese (and open water) in the middle of the lake - photo courtesy of Peter Tharaldson.

Why Fly South?

Maybe the birds know something we don't? Best Buy's Peter Tharaldson sent me a Facebook post and photo, showing thousands of geese on Toqua Lake, near Graceville, in far west central Minnesota.
"The geese never flew south. There are about 6000 (geese) sitting on this lake and they actually create enough stir to keep a section of water open."

The MN State Climate Office's Pete Boulay sent some breaking news: the second half of 2012 was the second warmest since 1873 in the Twin Cities; temperatures nearly 5 degrees F. above average. We've had 18 days above freezing this month, 6 days above 40; no subzero nights. Amazing.

Based on heating degree data we've saved 20% heating homes and business over a "typical winter". Whatever that is.

And the Arctic Oscillation Index, a measure of how strong westerly jet stream winds are across North America, shows a continuation of unseasonable warmth into the first half of January. No, I don't think we'll have a "Year Without A Winter", but we may come close.

A light mix up north tapers today - A slushy couple of inches of "snow" (you remember snow, right?) possible here Saturday night. Before that happens a south wind should boost the mercury into the 40s for an almost March-like New Year's Eve.

Climate Stories...

Recall: Punishing Drought Just Getting Started In Texas. From the San Antonio Current: "Natural weather cycles delivered the worst one-year drought in the historic record to Texas in 2011. Scientists examining tree rings had to go back as far as 1789 to find a worse one. It was global climate change, however, that supplied the added heat that further reduced precipitation and exacerbated an already ugly dryness into levels of record-breaking heat. When Texas state Rep. Doug Miller suggested that State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon had said climate change was not involved, the typically cautious, Bush-appointee offered the Current his correction: "Global warming contributed to the high temperatures, especially with this drought. So it enhanced evaporation and decreased water supply and therefore made the drought more intense then it would otherwise have been." Map above courtesy of NOAA's Drought Monitor.

Why Agriculture Needs To Catch Up On Climate Change Action. The story from "Farmers know weather. They know that the rainfall and temperature patterns that they depend on for productive yields are increasingly volatile. Agriculture is one of the first sectors that will be seriously affected by climate change. We're already seeing the impacts: the record-breaking drought and heat wave in Texas this year, for example, greatly depressed peanut yields, tripled prices for processors and led to a consumer price increase of 30-40 percent on peanut butter, the Wall Street Journal reported. Climate change will likely impact average temperatures, and the frequency of heat waves and extreme weather events, including storms, floods and droughts, is expected to increase, all with repercussions that will be felt by the agriculture sector."