Keeping The Lights On
People are still buzzing about Tuesday night's vivid display of the Northern Lights. Aurora are triggered by massive storms on the sun, solar flares lighting up the nighttime sky. But they can also disrupt satellite communications, GPS, even bring down portions of the power grid.
We're at the peak of the 11 year solar cycle. During any decade there's a 12 percent risk of a major X-class flare capable of disrupting power.
The Energy Information Administration shows a 10-fold increase in weather-related power outages since 1992; severe T-storms, derechos, high winds and intense hurricanes make keeping the lights on non-trival at times.
SPC has a moderate risk of severe storms over southern Minnesota today - a few isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out. Yes, unusual for October. More rain (and a few strong storms) are likely today. Showery rains extend into Sunday as the storm track shifts 100 miles farther east. That could mean a raw, soggy race for the Twin Cities Marathon with highs in the 40s.
It could be worse. The Black Hills could pick up a well over a foot of snow by Saturday.
Have a nice day!
ECMWF guidance shows 4 days above 70F next week. That will be a nice change of pace.
* Photo above: Jim Calaway, taken near Green Bay, Wisconsin Tuesday night.
Source: Energy Information Administration, U.S. Global Change Research Program.
* Evidence of wind shear impacting Karen's circulation - will probably limit how intense this storm will become before landfall.
* Karen may still strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane later today; but some weakening is likely before Karen comes ashore late Saturday.
* Moderate storm surge and inland flooding and minor wind damage is expected within a 100-150 mile cone, straddling where Karen comes ashore. Full readiness is called for, but this will not be a Sandy or Katrina-scale storm.
KAREN CONTINUES TO BE A SHEARED CYCLONE WITH A VIGOROUS
CIRCULATION...AND WITH MOST OF THE THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY TO THE
NORTH AND EAST OF THE CENTER. THERE HAS BEEN AN EXCELLENT COVERAGE
BY BOTH AIR FORCE AND NOAA HURRICANE HUNTER PLANES DURING THE PAST
SEVERAL HOURS. BASED ON THAT RECONNAISSANCE DATA...THE INITIAL
INTENSITY IS KEPT AT 55 KNOTS IN THIS ADVISORY. THE SHEAR AFFECTING
KAREN IS FORECAST TO INCREASE AND THIS WOULD SUGGEST WEAKENING. IT
IS BECOMING LESS REALISTIC THAT KAREN WILL BECOME A HURRICANE IN A
DAY OR TWO...BUT GIVING CREDIT TO SOME DYNAMICAL MODELS...LIKE THE
HWRF...WHICH DO SO...THE NHC FORECAST CALLS FOR A SLIGHT
STRENGTHENING. IT IS ANTICIPATED THAT KAREN WILL BE ON A WEAKENING
TREND BEYOND 48 HOURS...AND BECOME EXTRATROPICAL BY DAY 4.
Summary: Tropical Storm Karen needs to be monitored carefully. It's the first real storm of a very quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic, so expectations (and fears) are high. Karen is a relatively small storm, and wind shear will be a factor over the next 48 hours as the storm pushes north, then northeast across the Gulf of Mexico, ultimately limiting how strong this storm will be at landfall Saturday night. We have to assume Karen will become a weak Category 1 storm, smaller in scope and intensity than Sandy last October, but still capable of a significant punch as it comes ashore. Staff and facilities along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Panama City should remain on a heightened state of alert. The risks include elevated (2-5 foot) storm surges, moderate wind damage and power outages, and 4-8" rains capable of significant flash flooding. Downplaying T.S. Karen would be a mistake, but this storm isn't in the same league as Katrina in 2005.
In addition, we're monitoring an elevated tornado risk for Iowa and southern Minnesota, near-blizzard conditions pushing into western Nebraska and South Dakota, and a high fire risk for southern California. That's quite enough for one briefing. We'll keep you posted.
- September rainfall totals were below historical averages in many Minnesota counties, especially in northeast and far southern sections of the state. Precipitation totals fell short of long-term averages by two or more inches in these areas.
- Across much of the southern three-quarters of Minnesota, rainfall totals from late June to early October were four to eight inches below normal. These rainfall deficits, along with very hot late-summer temperatures, reestablished drought conditions across much of the state.
National Hurricane Center (NHC) Spokesman On Furlough. Remember meteorologist Dennis Feltgen, who worked at KSTP and KARE-11? He's a friend, and he's temporarily out of work due to the government shut-down. Great timing, huh? Details from NBC Miami.
Photo credit: Nick Brandt
"Men argue; nature acts." Voltaire, 1769.
Photo credit above: "June 2012's torrential rains devastated landscapes and wiped out the Highway 210 approach to the Thomson Bridge in Jay Cooke State Park, ten miles southwest of Duluth."
Photo credit above: "Coral is particularly at risk from acidification and rising sea temperatures." Photograph: Paul Jarrett/PA.