November 12

Mild East – Wintry Upper Midwest – Warming Climate Juicing Heatwaves

Winter Pangs? We’ll see 40s next week, but 500mb guidance roughly 2 weeks out shows prevailing jet stream winds buckling, allowing another shot of cold air to sail south around Thanksgiving. Confidence levels are low – there is no continuity from model run to run.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, November 11th, 2021

  • The first winter storm of the season will impact portions of the Northern Plains and upper Midwest today into Friday, with light to moderate snow expected to fall and strong winds in place.
  • The heaviest amounts of snow (potentially over a half a foot) is expected to fall near the International Border.
  • Strong winds will potentially produce whiteout/blizzard conditions in some areas where snow falls.
  • Blizzard Warnings are in place tonight into Friday across portions of northeastern South Dakota and western Minnesota, including Wheaton, Ortonville, Sisseton, and Watertown.

Storm System Set Up. A strong storm system that has brought areas of the upper Midwest some heavier rain Wednesday and Wednesday Night is going to linger over the region as we head through the next couple of days. With colder air working into the region, light to moderate snow is expected to pinwheel back into the Northern Plains and upper Midwest today and tonight, with the highest amounts expected to fall near the US/Canadian Border. This system also is producing strong winds, which will help cause reduced visibilities and, in some cases, whiteout/blizzard conditions.

Winter Alerts. Here’s a breakdown of winter alerts that are in place in the upper Midwest:

  • Blizzard Warnings have been issued across portions of northeastern South Dakota and western Minnesota from 6 PM tonight through 6 PM Friday as blizzard conditions are expected with total snow accumulations of 2-6” and winds gusting to 55 mph. Areas under Blizzard Warnings include Wheaton, Ortonville, Sisseton, and Watertown.
  • Winter Storm Watches in western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota (including Willmar, Alexandria, Redwood Falls, and Marshall) are for the potential of blizzard conditions tonight through Friday morning with up to 4” of snow and winds gusting to 50 mph.
  • Winter Storm Warnings in northern Minnesota (including International Falls and Roseau) from Noon today through Noon Friday are for 4-8” of snow and gusty winds to 40 mph.
  • Winter Weather Advisories are in place from the Dakotas to Minnesota and northern Iowa for the potential of several inches of snow and gusty winds. This includes Minot, Grand Forks, St. Cloud, Mankato, and Sioux Falls.

Potential Snow Amounts. For the most part, areas under winter alerts are expected to see at least an inch of snow fall. The heaviest totals will be up across portions of northern Minnesota, northern North Dakota, and portions of northeastern South Dakota, where totals could approach (or top) a half a foot of snow. This snow could cause slick driving conditions, and with it being the first snowstorm of the year we could see other additional travel issues as people “relearn” how to drive in winter conditions. With strong winds also expected, blowing snow will cause reduced visibility.

Strong Winds. As mentioned above, strong winds are also expected across the upper Midwest with this system as it lingers the next couple of days, with wind gusts potentially over 50 mph in some locations. In areas where snow fall, this will cause at least reduced visibility if not whiteout/blizzard conditions which will make travel treacherous. Outside of areas where snow is expected to fall, Wind Advisories and High Wind Warnings are in place across portions of Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Michigan. In some areas of the High Wind Warning, wind gusts to 70 mph will be possible. These winds could cause downed trees and power lines, potential power outages, and travel issues for high profile vehicles.

Blizzard Warning Wind Meteograms. Across areas under Blizzard Warnings, some of the strongest winds are expected late tonight into the morning hours on Friday, when wind gusts to at least 40 mph will be possible. With the falling snow, whiteout conditions will be possible. This will impact the Friday morning commute across the region.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

States Impacted: SD, ND, MN, NE, IA, MT, MI

Des Moines National Weather Service


Warming Temperatures Increasingly Alter Structure of Atmosphere. A new study highlighted at ScienceDaily caught my eye: “Climate change is having an increasing impact on the structure of Earth’s atmosphere, a new international study shows. The research, published in Science Advances, draws on decades of weather balloon observations and specialized satellite measurements to quantify the extent to which the top of the lowest level of the atmosphere is rising. That region, the tropopause, is pushing up the boundary with the stratosphere by about 50-60 meters (about 165-195 feet) per decade. The rising is caused by warming temperatures near Earth’s surface that are causing the lower atmosphere to expand. “This is an unambiguous sign of changing atmospheric structure,” said Bill Randel, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and co-author of the new study...”

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Better Hurricane Forecasts From The Use of Infrared Satellite Measurements of Cloudy Skies. As our observational tools improve, so should hurricane track and intensity forecasts. Here’s an excerpt from Newswise: “…Weather forecast models have long struggled to integrate satellite observations of infrared radiation in cloudy regions of the sky. But in recent years, some satellite data providers have developed new techniques to integrate such data. A group of researchers from China, Japan, the US and the UK have performed a survey of best practice for the observation and use of this data, demonstrating significant improvement in the forecasting of high-impact weather events such as hurricanes and typhoons. The survey was published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. The review concluded that a method using what are called cloud cleared radiances has proved to be the effective and efficient method for use of infrared data assimilation in partially cloudy skies. This involves essentially cutting out the cloud effect in infrared ‘sounder’ measurements to obtain a clear-sky infrared radiation equivalent...”


6th Warmest October on Record for USA. NOAA data shows continued easing of drought conditions over the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains.


Climate Stories…

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China, US Pledge to Increase Cooperation at UN Climate Talks. AP News brings us up to date: “The world’s top carbon polluters, China and the United States, agreed Wednesday to increase their cooperation and speed up action to rein in climate-damaging emissions, signaling a mutual effort on global warming at a time of tension over their other disputes. In back-to-back news conferences at U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and U.S. counterpart John Kerry said the two countries would work together to accelerate the emissions reductions required to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. “It’s beneficial not only to our two countries but the world as a whole that two major powers in the world, China and the U.S., shoulder special international responsibilities and obligations,” Xie told reporters. “We need to think big and be responsible...”

“Glasgow Declaration”. An agreement to agree or does an understanding between China and the US have any teeth? The New York Times (paywall) has perspective: “The United States and China agreed on Wednesday to “enhance ambition” on climate change, issuing a joint statement in which both countries agreed to do more to cut emissions this decade and in which China committed for the first time to address emissions from methane. The agreement, however, did not extract any new pledges from China to peak its emissions earlier than it has already promised, or to set a limit for how high emissions will rise before peaking. China and the United States are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate change envoy, announced the joint “Glasgow Declaration” between the world’s two largest climate polluters…”

Surprise Sino-American Agreement Important Because It Happened: More perspective, headlines and links from Climate Nexus: “The world’s two biggest climate polluters announced a surprise agreement at COP26 Wednesday. The agreement was light on details but was significant nonetheless, and seen as a potentially positive signal of US-China relations. The two countries will take “enhanced climate actions” and “raise ambition in the 2020s” toward keeping the global warming limits central to the Paris Agreement “within reach.” The agreement also, for the first time, includes a Chinese commitment to develop a “national plan” to cut methane pollution. China is the world’s largest methane polluter and has so far refused to sign on to the U.S. and EU-backed Global Methane Pledge. The agreement resembles, but is far less substantial than, a deal brokered by the same lead negotiators — China’s top climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and then Secretary of State John Kerry — in 2014 that laid the groundwork for the Paris Agreement the next year. Chinese president Xi Jinping and President Biden will meet virtually next week, reportedly Monday evening, the countries confirmed earlier this week.” (Washington Post $, New York Times $, PBS, Axios, Reuters, New York Times $, CNN, Climate Home, Sydney Morning Herald, CNBC, AP, Bloomberg $, Politico, The Hill, Politico Pro $; Chinese Methane: Bloomberg $; Global Methane Pledge: Bloomberg $; Biden-Xi meeting: Politico, Bloomberg $, South China Morning Post, Reuters; Commentary: Bloomberg, David Fickling column $)

Saudi Arabia Denies Playing Climate Saboteur at Glasgow. Associated Press News reports; here’s an excerpt: “…Saudi Arabia’s participation in climate talks itself can seem incongruous — a kingdom that has become wealthy and powerful because of oil involved in negotiations where a core issue is reducing consumption of oil and other fossil fuels. While pledging to join emission-cutting efforts at home, Saudi leaders have made clear they intend to pump and sell their oil as long as demand lasts. Saudi Arabia’s team in Glasgow has introduced proposals ranging from a call to quit negotiations — they often stretch into early morning hours — at 6 p.m. every day to what climate negotiation veterans allege are complex efforts to play country factions against one another with the aim of blocking agreement on tough steps to wrench the world away from coal, gas and oil...”

Bloomberg Green

How Scientists Know That Climate Change Juices Heatwaves. Bloomberg Green reports on a new analysis of the epic, historic heatwave that gripped the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia in late June; here’s an excerpt: “…In this case, it found that the North American heat wave in June was extraordinary even for our warmed climate. Greenhouse gases made it at least 150 times more likely, and pushed the peak temperature up by 2°C higher than it might have been. A heat wave like this one might become much more intense and frequent if the global average increases another 0.8°C—or 2°C total since the 19th century. That’s a threshold that could be crossed by midcentury if emissions continue at their current rate. In that case, climate change would add 3°C to the heat wave’s highest temperature, up from the 2°C it added to the Pacific coast in June. The frequency would increase, too, increasing from once in 1,000 years to once or twice every decade...”

The map shows areas where a wet-bulb globe temperature greater than 32.0°C occurs for more than 10 days per year at 4.0°C global warming, in the ensemble mean of models from the 5th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project.

One Billion Face Heat-Stress Risk from 2C Rise. The Met Office in the UK has details: “The numbers of people in regions across the world affected by extreme heat stress – a potentially fatal combination of heat and humidity – could increase nearly 15-fold if the world’s temperature rise reaches 2°C. At the new temperature – according to new figures and a map from the Met Office – the number of people living in areas affected by extreme heat stress rises from 68 million today to around one billion. A 4.0°C rise could see nearly half of the world’s population living in areas potentially affected. The indicator used for this assessment of a wet-bulb globe temperature above 32.0°C (see definition below*) is part of the international standard for measuring heat stress in working environments…”

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There’s No Cheap Way to Deal with the Climate Crisis. We are already paying the price, one that will escalate as the climate continues to warm, argues a post at ProPublica: “…The bills for natural disasters and droughts and power outages are already pouring in. Within a few decades, the total bill will be astronomical, as energy debts surge, global migration swells and industrial upheaval follows. The scale of the threat demands a new way of thinking about spending. Past budgets can no longer guide how governments spend money in the future. Some economists and climate scientists have calculated that climate change could cost the United States the equivalent of nearly 4% of its gross domestic product a year by 2100. Four percent is likely a conservative estimate; it leaves out consequential costs like damages from drought and climate migration...”

A cameraman sits in front of a screen displaying COP26 logo during a news conference at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 5, 2021.
REUTERS/Phil Noble

Draft Deal Looks Beyond UN Conference for Real Climate Advances. Reuters has the latest on COP26: “The British hosts of the U.N. climate conference have called on countries to raise their ambitions to cut greenhouse gas emissions by next year, acknowledging that current pledges fall short of what is needed to avert climate catastrophe. The first draft of the conference conclusion, which must now be negotiated by the almost 200 countries present in Glasgow and agreed by the close of the two-week talks on Friday, was released early on Wednesday. It asks countries to “revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions, as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022…”

The Draft COP26 Decision is here.

World on Track for 2.4C Warming, Even With Latest COP26 Pledges, Climate Action Tracker Finds. has the latest on COP26: “The world is on track for 2.4 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels, if not more, according to a new analysis — despite countries’ new and updated climate pledges, including those made at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland. The watchdog Climate Action Tracker (CAT) warned on Tuesday that global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be roughly twice as high as what’s necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees — a threshold scientists have said the planet should stay under to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. The net-zero goals of 40 countries account for 85% of global emissions cuts, but the group found only 6% of those emissions were backed up by concrete plans...”

Carbon Brief

Analysis: Do COP26 Promises Keep Global Warming Below 2C? Some good analysis from Carbon Brief; here’s an excerpt: “…Four different groups have provided newly updated estimates of likely warming outcomes either shortly before or during COP26, with new updates coming out on a near-daily basis. These include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Climate Resource (CR), an Australia-based climate analysis group. The figure (above) shows how current policy, 2030 commitments and net-zero promises compare between groups – and how they stack up against the five different future warming scenarios featured in the recent sixth assessment report (AR6; grey bars) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)…”

Drafts Of COP26 Agreement Released: Details, links and headlines courtesy of Climate Nexus: “Early drafts of an agreement out of COP26 acknowledge the world should aim to limit warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) and reference phasing out fossil fuels for the first time. The drafts also note “with regret” that wealthy nations have failed to make good on their promise to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance and include language about increasing finance targets in the future. They ask countries to come back in 2023 with stronger climate plans, something developing nations have been pushing for. These documents, which will eventually form the outcomes of the conference, were released early Wednesday morning, local time. Experts said the drafts are weak on providing compensation for irreparable loss and damage and more money to developing countries for adapting to climate impacts. The US and European Union have been accused of standing on the sidelines as countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia have pushed for lower ambition. Delegates will continue negotiating details over the coming days, with a final agreement officially due Friday night. But, if history is a guide, it could come hours (or days) later.” (BBC, Bloomberg $, AP, Washington Post $, CNN, Axios, Reuters, The Guardian, Newsweek)

Waves batter the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago on Oct. 25.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Earth’s Lakes are Warming at a Feverish Pace, With the Great Lakes Leading the Way. A story at Capital Weather Gang caught my eye; here’s a clip: “Since October, the water temperatures on all five of the Great Lakes have hovered at record-high autumn levels, about five to six degrees above average. This comes after abnormally large spikes in temperature over the summer, as well. The record-warm water temperatures over the Great Lakes fit into a pattern of warming lakes all over the planet, forced upward as human-caused climate change pushes air temperatures to record highs. “I’m not surprised at all that the water temperatures are so warm,” said Sapna Sharma, an associate professor at York University who has studied ice for more than a decade. “Lakes are experiencing more extreme warm years...”

Climate Central

Heaviest Rains Trending Wetter. Climate Central has details: “Climate Central found that 72% (178) of 246 locations analyzed have seen an increase in the amount of rain falling on their annual wettest day since 1950. Locations along the Gulf Coast and Mid-Atlantic have experienced the greatest increase by volume in their heaviest rainfall events. Houston tops the list with 2.8 additional inches on its annual wettest day compared to 1950, or an 83% increase. This is followed by Greenville, N.C., Pensacola, Fla., Hattiesburg, Miss. and Baton Rouge, La. These trends are consistent with long-term increases in the amount of precipitation falling in the heaviest one percent of downpours across the country, with the largest increases in the northeastern U.S. For 15% of 2568 stations evaluated across the contiguous U.S., their wettest day of 2021 ranks in their top-ten annual wettest days on record…”

Inside Climate News

Climate Change Imperils Critical Infrastructure. TheHill outlines what is at stake: “…U.S. infrastructure is, at best, in mediocre condition, deteriorating and showing signs of increasing vulnerability. For example, more than 21,000 bridges are susceptible to overtopping or having their foundations undermined during extreme storm events. In addition, more than 12 million residential properties, 900,000 commercial properties and 71,000 social infrastructure properties are at risk from flooding. But the highest risks are to the glue that connects our nation and keeps its people safe and healthy, its roads and airports, fire and police stations, hospitals, as well as drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. Roughly one-quarter of that critical infrastructure, 36,000 facilities, and nearly 2 million miles of road are at risk of becoming inoperable today. That doesn’t even account for the burdens on disadvantaged communities without any drinking water delivery or wastewater treatment infrastructure at all…”

CNN Graphic

New High Resolution Climate Model Predicts More Extreme Weather Events in the Future. has a summary of new research: “…Researchers found through the high-resolution model that impacts of extreme rainfall could be more frequent and severe due to climate change than had previously been thought. The study comes as global leaders convene in Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26 to discuss strategies for curbing greenhouse gas emissions in hopes of slowing human-induced warming, which is increasing at an alarming rate. The study narrows in on the COP26’s host city, as well as London. It shows the number of days with 30 mm of rain or more per hour (when the United Kingdom issues flash flood warnings) is 3.5 times more likely in Glasgow by the year 2070 when compared to 1990, if warming runs unchecked and the global temperature reaches 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and 2.5 times more likely in London…”

Why are Republicans Now Loving the Sweet Sound of Electric Vehicles? Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times Op-Ed (paywall) that explains the apparent (grudging) change of heart: “…Nevertheless, elected officials in these red states are bending over backward to court a manufacturing company that’s staking its future on electric vehicles. Last month, Mr. Lee called a special session of the Tennessee General Assembly to approve a $900 million incentive package for site development, construction, and work force training, among other expenses. It was the largest such outlay in state history. Despite the costs, legislators were giddy about the deal with Ford. “It represents a metamorphic moment,” Page Walley, a Republican state senator from Bolivar, said. “This is our crossing the Jordan.” Why would red-state politicians spend so much money to help fund the “most environmentally-friendly project in the country,” as Mr. Walley put it? One word: jobs...”

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