October 7

Fall On Hold For Much of USA – Disaster Fatigue – Calculating Your Home’s Flood Risk

Weather Bliss
Paul Douglas

Weather Models Are Only A First Guess

My father still thinks I forecast weather by looking out a west-facing window. I have nothing against using an “Amish Doppler” to gauge the current state of the clouds and sky. To be able to predict the future one needs to first grasp the present.

Meteorologists have dozens of weather models to choose from. Which one works best in a pattern like this? What are the trends in models (wetter, drier, warmer, etc?). George Box said “all models are wrong, but some are useful”. They are merely a guide, not Gospel.

An odd October holding pattern may keep us milder than average into late October or early November. The Rockies will see heavy snow later this week, but unseasonable warmth lingers over central and eastern states, in fact the maps resemble mid-September.



Persistence. The pattern is amazingly locked-in, with a tendency for cold, wet (snowy) weather for the Pacific Northwest, but a very persistent ridge of warm high pressure established over the central and eastern US. At some point this atmospheric holding pattern will break down but no time soon, it appears.


National Weather Service

Fall on Hold: Forecasters Predict Long-Lasting Warm Temperatures in Central and Eastern US. Capital Weather Gang has the post: “For about a week after the fall equinox, much of the eastern two-thirds of the Lower 48 states enjoyed crisp, refreshing autumn weather. But now Mother Nature has changed course. Warm, humid conditions more typical of late summer have returned and show little sign of retreating. Forecasts now call for above-average temperatures lasting at least 10 days, with high temperatures in some areas nearly 30 degrees above normal at times. The core of the anomalous warmth is predicted to focus in the north-central United States, but above normal temperatures are anticipated to prevail in most places east of the Rockies. The weather pattern may trigger heavy rainfall and severe storms in the central United States and could eventually support new tropical storm activity near the Gulf of Mexico...”


Climate Central

Disaster Fatigue. Climate Central has interesting perspective on the cadence of extreme (billion-dollar) weather disasters in the US: “The number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters (including tropical cyclones, wildfires, heatwaves, droughts, floods, and severe storms) to hit the U.S. each year has been increasing—from an average of 3 events per year in the 1980s to 12 events per year in the 2010s. Last year saw a record-shattering total of 22 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the U.S., costing a combined $99 billion (CPI-adjusted) in damages, according to NOAA. The last five years alone account for nearly a third (31.8%) of the $1.98 trillion in total costs of billion-dollar disasters nationwide since 1980. These staggering figures primarily reflect direct impacts on assets (including damage to homes, crops, and critical infrastructure) and therefore don’t reflect the full toll of disasters—including on human health and well-being, displacement, food and water supplies, as well as loss of cultural heritage, biodiversity and habitats...”


Deluge in Italy Sets European Record. Jason Samenow reports for Capital Weather Gang; here’s an excerpt: “An intense complex of thunderstorms stalled over northwestern Italy on Monday, unleashing a 12-hour torrent unrivaled in the history of European weather observations. It’s the latest extreme rain event supercharged by climate change that follows a summer of historic deluges in the Northern Hemisphere. In just 12 hours, 29.2 inches of rain fell in Rossiglione in Italy’s Genoa province, roughly 65 miles south-southwest of Milan and 10 miles north of the Mediterranean coastline. It marked the greatest 12-hour rainfall on record in Europe, according to Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist who specializes in world weather extremes...”


What is Your Home’s Flooding Risk? Couldn’t be much easier than this – type in an address and get a good overview of your flood risk, courtesy of FloodFactor.


Predicted October – December Temperature AnomaliesNOAA

A Few Cold Jabs – But October Trending Milder Than Average. NOAA’s suite of models shows a warm bias for the month across most of the USA through the end of the month, in spite of more frequent outbreaks of chilly air as we head into late October.


Deadly Tornado From Minnesota Featured on Cover of Upcoming Movie “13 Minutes”. There is a local angle, as described at Bring Me The News: “…On the cover of the movie poster is a photo of the deadly twister that ripped through Minnesota last summer. One of the storm chasers who captured video and photos of nature’s fury is Melanie Metz, better known by some in the storm chasing community as one of the “Twister Sisters.” Metz, who lives in Champlin, followed the twister as it carved a 9-mile path from west of Ashby to east of Dalton. It was on the ground for 31 minutes and achieved EF-4 status with 170 mph winds, making it a high-end tornado capable of producing extreme damage. The slow-moving buzzsaw scarred fields, destroyed any property in came into contact with, and tragically killed one person and injured two others...”


Although spring produces much higher numbers of tornadoes, fall can also have larger outbreaks.The Weather Channel

Fall Can Be a Secondary Peak Time for Tornadoes in the U.S. The Weather Channel explains: “Damaging tornadoes can strike the U.S. any time of the year, but fall has a historically notorious uptick in activity that fuels its reputation as a secondary peak season for severe weather. Just like spring, fall is a battleground season when surges of warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico sometimes meet up with the increasingly stronger cold fronts and jet stream winds that typically sweep across the country this time of year. When this mix of ingredients comes together it can spin up organized severe thunderstorms that produce damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes...”


The US has finalized a $20 million deal with Tomorrow.io to develop and deploy a series of advanced precipitation radars. This is an artist’s rendering.CNN Graphic

US Inks $20 Million Deal to Launch High-Tech Weather Satellites Into Space. CNN.com has details: “The United States is aiming to launch a group of small satellites to fill a critical gap in the ability to foresee precipitation dangers, like the deluge that overwhelmed Northeastern cities at the start of September. The US Air Force announced Thursday a nearly $20 million contract with Tomorrow.io to develop and deploy an entire constellation of small satellites equipped with advanced radar to measure precipitation from space. “This satellite constellation partnership with Tomorrow.io will fill critical weather sensing gaps and give Air Force Weather operators the global missions they support vastly improved awareness of current and forecasted mission-limiting weather conditions,” said John Dreher, chief of the weather systems branch at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts...”


August 9, 2020 filePaul Douglas

Does Bad Weather Really Affect Your Internet? It depends on how you’re connecting, according to a post at Mental Floss; here’s an excerpt: “…If your internet is cable- or satellite-based, on the other hand, inclement weather could be the culprit behind your spotty connection. Satellite radio waves have a difficult time passing freely through solid barriers like trees or buildings; and precipitation—especially rain, since it’s so dense—can interfere with a path that’s usually clear. For cable users, extreme temperatures or precipitation can damage the cables themselves. In short, you might be able to blame a thunderstorm for your Internet’s bad behavior, but the specific cause depends on what type of internet you have.


Climate Stories…

File imageFarmers for Climate Solutions

Climate Pressure Mounts for Biden as a Major Conference Looms. TIME.com reports: “Anyone who has followed U.S. climate policy is familiar with the cycle of bold attempts to enact climate rules that eventually sputter, followed by years of inaction. President Bill Clinton proposed an energy tax before backing away under industry pressure. President Barack Obama pursued cap-and-trade legislation before it stalled in Congress. Obama tried again using regulatory authority, but much of his moves were undone by a combination of the courts and the Trump administration. In short, every time the U.S. has tried to get its domestic house in order on climate in recent years, the world has instead been left waiting for the next opportunity: a new term, a new president or a new Congress…”


The ability of climate models to predict levels of warming, and to attribute natural disasters directly to climate change, has gone from being intensely criticized to winning a Nobel Prize for Physics this year.NASA

How Climate Models Got so Accurate They Earned a Nobel Prize. National Geographic explains that the models have been remarkably accurate in their predictions of warming: “…A 1990 National Geographic article put it this way: “Critics say that modeling is in its infancy and cannot even replicate details of our current climate. Modelers agree, and note that predictions necessarily fluctuate with each model refinement.” However, more recent analyses, dating back decades, have found that many of even the earliest models were remarkably accurate in their predictions of global temperature increases. Now, as computing power increases and more and more refinements are added to modeling inputs, modelers are more confident in defending their work. As a result, says Dana Nuccitelli, author of Climatology versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics, “there’s definitely been a shift away from outright climate science denial; because the predictions have turned out to be so accurate, it’s getting harder and harder to deny the science at this point...”


How Leaders from Coca-Cola, FedEx, Sony and General Motors are Tackling Climate Change. Fortune.com has a timely post; here’s the intro: “If there was one big theme at Fortune’s recent Global Sustainability Forum, a virtual event where leaders gathered to discuss how companies are responding to the new climate reality, it was this: “the math and the path,” as Mike Roman, CEO of 3M put it. In other words, how do you make your processes and products more sustainable— and how do you make that work financially? “Whether it’s carbon neutral or water or taking waste down or eliminating virgin plastics, those are all important for us to step up so we get that sharp focus. I think that’s when you start to see action, you can get people lining up or suppliers lining up,” Roman said. “I think it’s a little bit of the dynamic from the pandemic, where you get clear direction and develop a clear math and path…”


Illustration: Alvaro Dominguez

Actions You Can Take to Tackle Climate Change. WIRED.com (paywall) has practical ways you can step up; here’s a clip: “…Public pressure can be an impactful way to drive change. We Don’t Have Time (iOS, Android) is a social network “for everyone who wants to be a part of the solution to the climate crisis.” We Don’t Have Time leverages social media influence to hold politicians, decision-makers, and companies accountable for climate change. The app connects users directly to companies and organizations to collectively push for more sustainable and climate-friendly behaviors, and it calls out companies for damaging practices. Users can review company initiatives and send climate action suggestions and petitions to decision-makers. The news tab provides global climate and energy news to keep users informed. Understanding our own actual impact on climate change can also help us identify behaviors we can change and reduce our climate anxiety. The Earth Hero app (iOS, Android) helps you calculate, track, and reduce your personal carbon footprint, and it connects users to climate action groups…”


If Climate Change Threatens Us All, Shouldn’t Everyone Be Talking About It? CBS News explains; here is an excerpt: “…According to the new book, “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World,” the lack of conversation may be the biggest threat of all. The book is published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS. Author Katharine Hayhoe said more than half of U.S. adults are concerned about climate change, but only about a third of us ever talk about it. Hayhoe is a prominent climate scientist at Texas Tech University who studies not only the climate but the conversation around it. “I mean, if one more person tells you about a starving polar bear, or a melting iceberg, or rising sea levels, you’re just like, ‘What am I supposed to do? I’m just one person. I’m not, like, the president, or CEO, or anything,” said Hayhoe…”


Vicious Climate Cycle Spins As Russia Burns: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Rising temperatures heated by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels like oil and gas are melting permafrost — land previously frozen year round — and causing problems for Russia’s oil and gas industry, the Wall Street Journal reports. Over the last 45 years, Russian temperatures have risen 2.5 faster than the global average. The melting permafrost on which two-thirds of the country sits is also physically destabilizing oil and gas infrastructure and forcing companies to spend millions to prevent disasters, like when a ruptured tank in remote Siberia hemorrhaged 20,000 tons of diesel fuel. The hotter temperatures and melting permafrost are accelerating viciousclimatic cycles by releasing heat-trapping methane previously frozen underground and fueling almost incomprehensible wildfires. Russian wildfires have burned 65,000 square miles (41.6 million acres) so far this year, Grist reported last week, and in July and August alone produced more CO2 pollution than the entire country of Germany in a year.” (Wall Street Journal $, Grist; Climate Signals background: Arctic amplification, Wildfires)


FEMA, Axios. Map courtesy of Jared Whalen

There’s No Outrunning the Risks of Climate-Fueled Weather. Here’s an excerpt from Axios: “…There is nowhere in the USA (or on Earth) that is totally risk-free from the impacts of climate change,” said Brown University environmental studies professor Laurence C. Smith in an email exchange. The inland mid-central and northeastern states along the Canadian border may experience some of these detriments somewhat less severely than other areas of the country,” Smith said. Limiting the future scope of extreme weather risks will require global emissions cuts to curtail global warming as much as possible. But significant warming and extreme weather damage are already baked in, which requires risk management and adaptation decisions — personal and governmental...”

FEMA, Axios. Map courtesy of Jared Whalen

Study: Exposure to Deadly Urban Heat Worldwide Has Tripled in Recent Decades. ScienceDaily has specifics: “A new study of more than 13,000 cities worldwide has found that the number of person-days in which inhabitants are exposed to extreme combinations of heat and humidity has tripled since the 1980s. The authors say the trend, which now affects nearly a quarter of the world’s population, is the combined result of both rising temperatures and booming urban population growth. The study was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Over recent decades, hundreds of millions have moved from rural areas to cities, which now hold more than half the world’s population. There, temperatures are generally higher than in the countryside, because of sparse vegetation and abundant concrete, asphalt and other impermeable surfaces that tend to trap and concentrate heat — the so-called urban heat island effect…”


In 2020, U.S. adults in areas that have experienced an anomalously high number of hot, dry days (southwestern region and Alaska), in areas affected by hurricane-related flooding (southeastern arc), and in metropolitan areas are more likely to think that global warming will harm them personally when compared with the national average of 43%.Credit: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

How Do You Know If You’ve Experienced Global Warming? Note to self: a warming climate is flavoring all weather now – making natural extremes even more extreme. Here’s the intro to a post at Eos: ”People in every corner of the United States are increasingly seeing climate change affect their daily lives: water shortages and lost crops from extended drought, record-breaking heat waves in cities, hazy air from wildfire smoke half a country away, and hurricane-related flooding in basement apartments, to name just a few. However, not every extreme weather event convinces people that they are personally experiencing climate change. A recent study in Global Environmental Change has found that regardless of political and sociodemographic factors, experiencing an anomalously high number of hot, dry days is most likely to make U.S. residents believe they’ve experienced global warming. “Climate change expresses itself very differently in different places—wildfires and drought in the West, hurricanes and flooding in the East, all of the above in Texas!” said Jennifer Marlon, a climate scientist at the Yale School of the Environment in New Haven, Conn., and lead author of the study…”


Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Next 30 Years of Extreme Weather. Axios connects the dots and looks at potential future trends: “...What’s next: In the West, water scarcity, wildfires and heat waves are projected to worsen in coming years, potentially driving people away from the region. In the Midwest, a weather whiplash effect — with conditions swinging between drought and flooding — and more precarious agricultural conditions are in the offing. Across the South and Southeast, more powerful, rapidly-intensifying and wetter hurricanes could spin ashore. Heat waves will also be a greater concern. And along the East Coast from Florida to Maine, a key task will be managing the impact of so-called sunny day flooding, when rising sea levels plus astronomical high tides cause flooding in sections of Miami, Charleston and Norfolk. The bottom line: The future need not be a Hollywood dystopian hellscape…”


Pope Francis takes part in the “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” meeting with other religious leaders ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Britain, at the Vatican, October 4, 2021.Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

Pope, Other Religious Leaders, Issue Pre-COP26 Appeal on Climate Change. Reuters reports: “Pope Francis and other religious leaders made a joint appeal on Monday for next month’s U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) to offer concrete solutions to save the planet from “an unprecedented ecological crisis”. The “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” meeting brought together Christian leaders including Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as representatives of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism. “COP26 in Glasgow represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations,” the pope said…”

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