Forecast: Dark (But Relatively Mild)
”The darkness declares the glory of light” wrote poet T. S. Eliot. My personal favorite: “It’s often darkest before it goes pitch black.” MSP will see 9 hours, 4 minutes of daylight today. That compares with 15 1/2 hours in late June.
Over the years I’ve fielded more gripes about the darkness than the cold. Compounding our dark moods: November and December are the cloudiest months of the year.<p>According to NOAA, November brought only 10 cloudy days at MSP. Normal is 18. It’s not your imagination: the sun WAS more visible. A persistent west wind aloft howling from Seattle tends to be mild and dry of us; most of the moisture squeezed out west of the Rockies. Meaning few storms. Dribs and drabs of rain and snow. Insert yawn here.
A flow from the Pacific vs. the Arctic means a [cough- cough] “mild bias” continues into at least mid-December.
Close encounters of slush are possible; a few inches may fall over the northern third of Minnesota early next week, when metro temperatures may poke up into the 40s once more. Wow.
Mid-December: Coldest Air Stays North. A (supernaturally) persistent west to east (zonal) flow across the USA keeps the most bitter Canadian/Siberian air bottled up north of Minnesota for the next 2 weeks – a few spasms of cold, but no prolonged polar punches in sight just yet.
Atmospheric Rivers Keep Flooding Pacific Northwest: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Two atmospheric rivers dumped even more rain on Washington and British Columbia over the (American) Thanksgiving weekend, and another is expected to pummel the already-widely-flooded region today. Some areas have been deluged by more than 2 feet of rain in the last 30 days. Less than two weeks ago as many as 18,000 people were cut off by flooding in southern British Columbia. Climate change is worsening extreme precipitation events and flooding. The warming, caused mainly by extracting and burning fossil fuels, also supercharges wildfires, which further exacerbates the flooding by denuding mountainsides of erosion protection.” (Axios, Washington Post $, AP, NPR, CNN, New York Times $; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation events, Flooding)
Cloud Seeding Gains Steam as West Faces Worsening Droughts. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang has the story: “As the first winter storms rolled through this month, a King Air C90 turboprop aircraft contracted by the hydropower company Idaho Power took to the skies over southern Idaho to make it snow. Flying across the cloud tops, the aircraft dropped flares that burned as they descended, releasing plumes of silver iodide that caused ice crystals to form and snow to fall over the mountains. In the spring, that snow will melt and run downstream, replenishing reservoirs, irrigating fields and potentially generating hundreds of thousands of additional megawatt hours of carbon-free hydropower for the state. Idaho Power, a private utility serving more than half a million customers in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon, has used cloud seeding to pad its hydroelectric power production for nearly two decades…”
Top Storms of 2021 Hurricane Season. Scuttlebutt Sailing News (!) has a very good summary: “As the Atlantic Hurricane Season comes to a close on November 30, a look back shows 2021 was another above average year with the Atlantic Basin once again finishing off the full 21-name list. While the 2021 discussion will forever belong to Ida, there were a number of storms that affected the United States. The WBRZ Weather Team has listed some of the more significant systems based off of a criteria of meteorological significance, financial losses, and fatalities:
#1 – Hurricane Ida: Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon (Louisiana) on August 29 with 150 mph winds. Storm surge and extreme winds destroyed the city of Grand Isle. A staggering 172 mph wind gust was recorded on a ship in Port Fourchon. Hurricane Ida maintained major hurricane status as it tracked inland through LaPlace. From there, hurricane force winds continued along the I-55 corridor to the Louisiana/Mississippi state line...”
Double-Striking Hurricanes Expected to Increase. I found an interesting post at news4jax.com; here’s the intro: “Areas along the Gulf coast including Florida and our east coast are twice as likely to get two hurricane landfalls within just 10 days according to a study published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters. Florida and Louisiana are most likely to experience “sequential landfall,” where one hurricane moves over land faster than infrastructure damaged in a previous storm can be repaired. The researchers estimate this timescale between hurricanes to be 10 days for those states. Being hit by two storms in quick succession gives communities and infrastructure less time to recover between disasters — a significant problem for a region with a swelling population that has struggled to recover following previous natural disasters…”
Minnesota, the Midwest are Central in Combating Climate Change. Star Tribune provides analysis: “Earth lovers, here’s today’s quiz: Which sector of the Minnesota economy is spewing the most planet-warming carbon into the atmosphere? Is it A) transportation; B) electricity generation; or C) agriculture, forestry and other land uses? If you picked A, you get an A — and you’ll likely agree that it was a good thing that the chair of the Minnesota House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee was in Glasgow, Scotland, for the recent United Nations climate change Conference of the Parties, known as COP26. Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, was one of only two state legislators who joined more than 60 other Minnesotans at COP26…”
Exxon Lobbyist Questions Urgency of Climate’s Catastrophic Risks. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: “Just last month, ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods assured lawmakers his company neither disputed the scientific consensus on climate change nor lobbied against efforts to cut carbon pollution. But a lobbyist for the oil giant struck a different tone less than two weeks later, according to a recording obtained by The Washington Post, suggesting global warming might not be so dire. Erik Oswald, a vice president and registered lobbyist for Exxon, during a Nov. 9 panel hosted by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission in Santa Fe, N.M., highlighted his firm’s financial interest in curbing carbon emissions rather than the dangers posed by climate change. “Is it catastrophic inevitable risk? Not in my mind. But there is risk,” he said, according to a recording that the watchdog group Documented shared with The Post…”
White House Launches New Climate Policy Division Within OSTP: More links and headlines from Climate Nexus: “The White House launched a new division within the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop climate policy on Wednesday. Sally Benson will head the new effort to craft policy to move the U.S. towards achieving the goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, including shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and electrifying America’s building and transportation sectors.” (Washington Post $, Politico Pro $, CNN)