"The world of sensible seasons had come undone" wrote Barbara Kingsolver in "Flight Behavior", a fictional account of climate change's impact on one family in Tennessee. It's an excellent read, by the way.
No, not every weather quirk is a symptom of warming, but if you listen carefully Minnesota's weather tune is playing vaguely off-key.
Near 60F on Monday with a thundershower - on December 3? 83 percent of Minnesota is in severe drought, up from 43 percent a week ago.
Not a farmer? If you like water in your lakes and affordable food on your table you'll want to stay up on the drought.
Meanwhile northern California may pick up 15 inch rains, with 100 inch snows in the mountains.
While we see just enough rain to settle the dust on Monday. 40s feel like a relief this weekend; hints of April Monday before cooling off by midweek. Jackets and coats return next weekend, but another thaw may be brewing for mid-December. I fear we'll go right down to the wire with a white Christmas again this year.
Dry bias and El Nino?
At some point the law of averages will catch up with us and it will "snow". Minnesotans will slip and slide to work. Snowmobiles will roar to life. Skiers will smile, kids will celebrate.
Any day now.
* image above from funcram.com
Severe Drought Expands. I can't remember the last time I saw this: the aerial extent of severe drought jumping from 43% to 83% of Minnesota in one week. The worst conditions: St. Cloud and Willmar to Mankato and all of southwest Minnesota, more pockets of extreme drought near Bemidji. The entire metro area is now in severe drought. Map courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Temperature Roller Coaster. I expect 40s today and Sunday; a slight chance of a shower (or drizzle) today, a better chance of a few light showers Monday. If the cold front holds off until after 2 pm Monday a high of 60 F. isn't out of the question Monday, but mid to upper 50s are likely, about 20 degrees above average. We cool off by Wednesday - temperatures blip upward again Thursday before chilling back down to near average next Saturday.
Negative Trend For NAO? The NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) Index is a tip-off of weather to come, 1-2 weeks out. Strongly positive NAO's often correlate with quiet weather, strongly negative phases of NAO correspond to more dips and bulges in the jet stream, a greater potential for storms. We're in a drought, but maybe we'll be brushed by a few storms come mid-December. We're due. Graph above: NOAA.
2 Week Extended Outlook. The GFS forecast map above is valid December 16, showing the "540 line", the approximate location of the rain-snow line, pushing into southern Minnesota, another major storm thrashing the west coast. Highs reach the 20s and 30s from December 9 into December 16, fairly close to average for December. No frigid air is in sight - no major storms are brewing either, looking out 2 weeks or so. I keep waiting for a break in the pattern - don't see it yet.
Graphic credit above: "A 43-day atmospheric-river storm in 1861 turned California’s Central Valley region into an inland sea, simulated here on a current-day map." Image: Don Foley
1) Build Green as Well as Gray
"As we saw from Hurricane Sandy and other destructive, recent storms, cities from New York to Miami to Houston need to develop infrastructure that reduces the vulnerability of homes, commerce, and services.
This does not mean walling-in every coastal community with huge barriers or dikes. Where cities meet shorelines, "green infrastructure" can often meet the same need. For example, Maryland's state government is buying up wetlands and marshes to provide buffers against future storm surge. And in New Jersey, the restoration of South Cape May Meadows provided a natural seafront barrier that helped the area fare much better than others when Sandy hit..."
Photo credit: "Parts of the brick walkway of Liberty Island that were damaged in Superstorm Sandy were shown during a tour, in New York, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Tourists in New York will miss out for a while on one of the hallmarks of a visit to New York, seeing the Statue of Liberty up close. Though the statue itself survived Superstorm Sandy intact, damage to buildings and Liberty Island's power and heating systems means the island will remain closed for now, and authorities don't have an estimate on when it will reopen." (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
1998: The warmest December day ever in the Twin Cities with 68 degrees. St. Cloud rose to 61.
1985: Parts of central Minnesota received up to a foot of snow. Snowfall totals included 12 inches at Waseca and Milaca, 11.3 at Alexandria, and 11 inches at Fairmont and Long Prairie. Photo above: NOAA.
Graphic credit above: "These undated handout images provided by NASA shows the extent of surface melt over Greenland's ice sheet on July 8, left, and July 12, right. Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12." (AP Photo/Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI/NASA GSFC, and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory).
Photo credit above: AP/James Balog. "A hiker surveys the damage from climate change atop an iceberg in Alaska. Correcting climate change used to be a bipartisan effort, but recently has become more partisan, causing faith groups to get involved."