WeatherNation Blog

All Aboard! The Pineapple Express is Here!

We’re not talking about this, although it likes a fun place to be, (picture from this Hawaii Blog

and we’re not talking about this movie, although it was a really funny movie (image from,

instead we are talking about this, a river of moisture that comes from around an area near Hawaii and flows straight towards the west coast.  (this image is from the blog site

What is the Pineapple Express?

Well it is, essentially, a river of water that flows through the atmosphere.  An atmospheric river is a narrow corridor of concentrated moisture that moves between, generally, large areas of divergent surface air flow.  It is as if the Amazon River was placed up in the atmosphere and the mouth of the river was at a landmass rather than the ocean.  Typically, these monumental flows of water can transport nearly 90% of the global meridian water vapor but at times, occupy a very small space in the Earth.  The Pineapple Express is one of these atmospheric rivers that is called so because it originates from the Hawaiian Islands.

Why Is This A Bad Thing?

What makes it so potent and devastating to the west coast, is that the orographic influence to the region, helps squeeze out more moisture from the river above.  This makes the rainfall totals across the windward portions of the mountains in the west much higher.  There is the chance of heavy flooding, mudslides, landslides.  And if the temperatures are cold enough, especially in the higher elevations, there will be heavy, wet snow.

This past summer in the west, from Washington to California and out towards Colorado, there were numerous wildfires that scorched the trees, and burned so many square miles.  These trees and their root systems would hold in the soil along the mountain slopes, but with the vegetation gone, the soil is loosely being held on the sides of the mountains.  With heavy rains and gusty winds, the soil can easily be washed down the sides of the slopes, leading to mudslides and complete collapses of sections of Earth.

The “highway of water” flows from Hawaii and heads straight for the San Francisco Bay area and beyond.  The water vapor imagery above shows moisture via the white and green colors where the green is ample moisture.  The black to the brown colors indicate drier air.  The area of low pressure “L” is sitting in the Gulf of Alaska and helping to churn the moisture towards the west coast.

Heavy amounts of rain are coming into California and Nevada.  The green is rain and the heavy batches of showers are the yellow blobs imbedded in the green.  Cities at the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, such as Merced, Fresno and Sacramento, will be seeing enhanced rain totals due to the influence on the mountains.  In the mountains, above 6500 feet, snow is coming down, by several inches to nearly a foot.  Mammoth Mountain and the town of Bishop in CA are going to see fresh snow all weekend long.

These are some of the locations that saw record breaking rains for Thursday.  Crescent City, CA had a record of 2.00″ in 1995 and saw more than double that in one day, setting a new record of 4.14″.

Through Monday afternoon, a projected 3-5″ could come down across northern California, according to one model.  Notice the big purple bulls-eye where the highest totals could be over 5″ through the weekend.

According to the Hydrological Prediction Center, 9-12″ or more could come down in the highlighted area in northern California over the next 5 days.  Up into WA and OR, west of the Cascade Mtns, 4-6″ is projected to add up.

Here is what flooded roadways looked like in Marin County, CA yesterday.  Marin County is located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Flood watches, warnings and advisories are all in the green shaded counties, from the foothills of the Sierras to the coastal areas on central California.  They are expecting to see over 10″ of rain by Sunday.

Where it is cold enough for the rain to fall as snow, there are Winter Weather Storm Warnings up in the pink where 6-12″ of snow is projected to fall above 6500′.

Even further inland, the atmospheric moisture will spread out into.  Winter Storm Warnings are up in central Idaho and western Wyoming where an astonishing 2-4 feet will come down through the weekend.

Powerful gusts of winds are also coming with this storm system.  The brown shaded counties indicate where a Wind Advisory is and where winds will be sustained around 25-50 MPH.  Gusts will be as high as 80 MPH in the gold shaded counties located in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevadas and in towards Reno, NV.

The train will keep on coming into the west coast all weekend long.  If you are traveling to those locations, bare in mind you will be facing airline delays.  And there will certainly be road travel issues  along I-5 and through the major roadways that travel east/west through the mountains.

Take care, have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend.

Meteorologist Addison Green (twitter: @agreenWNTV)




Meteorological Fall Ends – Where Is The Snow?

Where’s the snow?
Some folks may be asking that question after a fairly dismal start (for most) to the 2012-2013 winter season. Other than a few heavy pockets of snow across parts of the nation so far, the rest of the nation has been lulled to sleep by a rather quiet weather pattern as of late. Here are a couple of ‘snowy’ webcams that I could find from Thursday.

Duluth, MN

BWCA – Northeastern MN

Snowless in St. Paul
If folks in Seattle are sleepless, then folks in St. Paul are snowless. This was the webcam from St. Paul, MN earlier Thursday, which showed a pretty barren looking landscape.

Twin Cities November Numbers
November 2012 will go in the books as a fairly dry and snowless month. In fact, the Twin Cities will end up nearly an inch below normal November precipitation. That along with temperatures running nearly 3.5F above average allowed for WELL below normal snowfall. November snowfall is at a whopping 0.8″ (nearly 8.0″ below normal for the month and almost 8.5″ below normal for the season. The numbers listed below are climate numbers as of Wednesday, November 28th.

2012-2012 Winter Season So Far…
Even though meteorological winter doesn’t start until Saturday, the official seasonal snow totals are based from July 1st. So far this winter, things have been pretty pittful. With only 0.8″ of snow, we are nearly 8.5″ below normal snow for the season. An average Twin Cities winter sees nearly 52″ of snow.

10th Least Snow November?

According to, November 2012 could be tied for the 10th least snowy November in modern day history! Take a look at the numbers below.

Even Worse Than Last Winter?

I didn’t think it could be possible, but we’re even doing worse than last year! Take a look. Last winter’s 9th least snowy season on record (22.3″ for the season) had 3.0″ of snow in November of 2011.

From Feast to Famine
I still can’t believe that from the 2010-2011 winter to the 2011-2012 winter we had such a flip-flop. 88.6″ of snow fell in the Twin Cities two winters ago (good enough for the 4th snowiest winter on record) and a year later we had the 9th least snowy winter on record.

2010 US Snow Cover
The winter of 2010 was a big one for quite a few folks across the nation AND it started early. By this time two years ago, nearly one-third of the nation was covered in snow.

2012 US Snow Cover
So far this year, we’re down about 10%-15% snow cover from this time 2 years ago. As of late November, 20% of the nation was covered in snow.

National Snow Deficit
There are a number of reporting stations that are noting deficits so far this season. Take a look at the numbers below.
National Precipitation Deficit
This also coincides with the national precipitation deficit, which is much more staggering than the snow deficit. Unbelievably, every reporting station on the map below (other than Seattle and Miami) are reporting below average precipitation for the year.
Closer Look at the Deficit
As we delve into the map here, it reveals an even more grim scenario. Some spots in the middle part of the country are a foot or more below normal precipitation for the year.
US Drought Update
The extensive drought of 2012 continues with nearly 63% of the nation under a moderate drought or worse. The worst and most extensive part of the drought appears to be in the Central Plains.
Winter Wheat Crop Whithers
According to Businessweek, the winter wheat crop isn’t doing so hot. In fact these are the worst crop conditions since 1985.
2012 Drought vs. the 1930s Drought
I thought this was interesting… Comparing this year’s drought to that of the 1930s, it almost looks the same. Some of the same areas that were hit then are being hit now.
If the United States were to experience a 1930s-style drought today, could it give us a second Dust Bowl? Some of the driest and hottest conditions on record have plagued parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia, and other states over the last two years. A number of factors—both meteorological and societal—would need to conspire for the current event to resemble the all-out disaster of the Dust Bowl. Yet a devastating outcome could emerge with a flavor all its own.”
How They Compare
Back in the 1930s we didn’t have the US Drought Monitor, so the next comparible thing is the Palmer Drought Severity Index
This index had 1934 as the most extreme with the US at 80%… Not even close, but still relavant is the 2nd place 60% of the nation in 2012 and  1954.
Since the Drought Monitor didn’t exist in the 1930s, we need to use the venerable Palmer Drought Severity Index to make an apples-to-apples comparison. (The PDSI is among several factors that go into the Drought Monitor.) The highest PDSI-based extent on record occurred in 1934, when 80% of the contiguous United States was in some form of drought. Well back in second place—with PDSI-based drought coverage peaking at roughly 60%—are 1954 and 2012.”
Contributing Factors to the 2012 Drought
HEAT: ”The Great Warm Wave of March 2012, which brought many states their toastiest early-spring weather ever observed, provided an unusually early kickoff to seasonal demand for water by fast-growing plants. Blazing temperatures across the Midwest in early summer only made things worse, pushing water stress to extreme levels as far northeast as Indiana. According to Svoboda, “The heat in June and July really exacerbated and accelerated the impacts this summer.”
“DURATION. The current drought doesn’t yet hold a candle to the Dust Bowl in terms of longevity. After the 1920s, a decade of ample moisture and bountiful wheat crops, the Great Plains fell into drought in 1931 and didn’t see a major recovery until 1939. The 1950s brought another intense multiyear drought that touched much of the nation.”
West Coast Storm
Look at this monster storm out west! This behemoth will be responsible for flooding rains, damaging wind gusts and heavy mountain snow through the weekend/early next week for folks across the west. A piece of this storm looks to break off and head inland over the weekend/early next week with rain, thunderstorms and some snow by the first week of December for residence of the middle part of the country.
 Next Monday

Here’s what the weather map looks like next Monday. Note the mild yellows and oranges sneaking up ahead of the cold front. Temperatures on Monday look to be very unseasonable mild. Widespread 50s, 60s and 70s will be likely in the middle part of the country from late weekend into early next week head of this front. The front will quickly drop temperatures back down to more seasonalbe levels as it passes with a little light snow across the far north.


Snow in the Forecast?
Take a look ECMWF (European model) over the next week. I’ve plotted accumulated snowfall through next Friday and note the lack of colors in the middle part of the country. According to this particular model, we stay mostly snow free through the first part of December.

2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends Friday

In an average season (using 1981-2010 as a baseline), there are 12.1 named storms, 6.4 hurricanes, and 2.7 major hurricanes. This season ended up with 19 named storms, 10 of which became hurricanes, but just 1 of those became a major hurricane (defined as category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale). The 19 named storms ties for the third greatest number of such storms in a season on record. Historically, only about 3 percent of seasons experience 19 or more named storms. As rare as this feat is, it was amazingly the third consecutive season to have 19 named storms!”

Read more from HERE:

Thanks for checking in, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

One Month after Superstorm Sandy

I can still remember the morning after Sandy made landfall in the Northeast.  Coming in to work at 2am, I had watched the storm come ashore the day before, and then went to bed- having heard all of the worst case scenarios.  I remember specifically hearing something about how, “Let’s just hope the subways don’t flood.”

Walking in to WeatherNation at 2am I was greeted by Alex Buck, one of our weather producers, he having stayed hours past his shift to help gather information and help brief me on the latest – because seemingly ALL of the worst case scenarios had taken place.  Massive flooding, massive storm surge, water in the subways – SALT water, and seemingly an endless array of terrible scenarios.  Thankfully, we are now a month removed from that – but the clean-up process is still ongoing and so is the healing.

Brilliant Lights Illuminate New York City Skyline


This laser light show was created to remember the victims of the “superstorm” we now know as Sandy.  Superstorm really was the only proper descriptor for Sandy, since it was a hybrid of a tropical and post-tropical system.

The rainbow-colored lights are shining into some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the storm, beaming into Brooklyn toward the Rockaways in Queens, from 8pm to 2am from Tuesday to Thursday. The photo above is from

Read more from the DailyUK here:

Here’s a video of the light show from the New York Daily News.

Sandy By the Numbers 

“Sandy is being blamed for about $62 billion in damage and other losses in the U.S., the vast majority of it in New York and New Jersey — a number that could increase. It’s the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after 2005′s Hurricane Katrina, which caused $128 billion in damage in inflation-adjusted dollars. Sandy caused at least $315 million in damage in the Caribbean.”

Read more from the Huffington Post here: 

Connecticut Recovery

“There’s been a lot of national media focus on New York and New Jersey,” Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate said at a media briefing Tuesday. “We don’t really care where the national media is at, we’ll be where the needs are and we’ll be here in Connecticut for as long as it takes.”

That’s a pretty telling response from Fugate – and in my opinion, a good thing as well.  Hopefully folks in Connecticut and Rhode Island will be able to recover just as quickly, or quicker due to smaller damage tallies, as the other larger damaged areas.  Read more:

A quick personal story about a good friend of mine in Connecticut.  Actually, two separate friends that don’t know each other.  Friend 1 was lucky to get out on a business trip just in time to get out, but his wife was left alone at home with the cats.  Luckily, both she, and her cats, ended up fine.

More luck in Connecticut:  a former coworker of mine just recently moved to eastern Connecticut, just a block from the ocean.  His report to me: “Every house on the block was flooded except ours, it turns out ours was on a slight incline.”  Lucky.  Unfortunately, not everyone was so lucky.

Damages in Rhode Island still mounting

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently raised its projection of damage to public infrastructure from about $5.5 million, shortly after the storm, to $14 million.” Read more from the Providence Journal here: 

A Look Back

Here’s a look back at what it was like in as the storm approached, the day it made landfall October, 29th 2012, and the morning. Thanks to our crews in New York and New Jersey.

Make sure you keep all of those folks impacted by Sandy in your thoughts as they all struggle to rebuild.  Look for fundraisers around your area, if you can find any.  I am attending a fundraiser this Saturday at the local YWCA in Minneapolis (Uptown branch) trying to raise money for victims of Sandy.


WeatherNation Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer @ashafferWNTV

Aaron Shaffer

Historic Flooding Possible Northern California & Oregon

Amazing Grace
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
The measure of a person isn’t what they have, but what they give, right?
My mom passed away yesterday. I wish you could have known her. Grace was a force of nature. She grew up dirt-poor, in a tent, during The Depression. She raised 3 kids, went on to become a prolific antiques dealer. She taught us the most important lesson: family comes first. “Do the right thing … never give up” she’d say with a stern smile. I was in awe of her. I still am. Todd Nelson will be filling in while I’m with family.
The weather map is mercifully quiet. Roughly 3 weeks from the Winter Solstice it seems odd to be tracking rain; drizzle Saturday, a few heavier showers and T-showers Monday.
Expect highs from 45-50 F. over the weekend, then well into the 50s on Monday, before cooling down by midweek.
We thaw out late next week, but colder air building over Canada arrives by the second week of December. Any snow by mid-month will come in dribs & drabs; still no sign of The Big One. I’ll keep searching.
My loss hasn’t hit me yet. A word to the wise: take no one for granted. Do the right thing. Never give up. And give mom extra hugs.
Do it today.

Staggering Precipitation Amounts. WSI’s high-resolution (12 kilometer) RPM model prints out about 4-5″ for San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, but as much as 16-20″ of precipitation for northern California. That’s 1-2 hurricane’s worth of moisture, which may translate into some 150-200″ snowfall amounts for the Cascade and Sierra Range. If this forecast verifies some areas of the west will experience historic river flooding and an extreme avalanche risk.

December On Hold. The 6-10 day temperature trends show temperatures well above average across most of the USA, thanks to a persistent wind flow from the Pacific – Canadian air temporarily bottled up in Canada. Map above: NOAA CPC and Ham Weather.

Zonal Flow. Typical for late September or mid-October, a (persistent – vigorous) west to east wind flow from the Pacific is a bit more unusual heading into the first week of December. The NOAA animation above shows 500 mb winds (18,000 feet) thru Saturday

Above Average. The first full week of December may bring highs consistently above freezing, in fact most of the days will probably feature highs in the 40s. 50+ F. highs are possible Monday, again late next week, based on latest ECMWF guidance.
NAEFS Guidance. Experimental long-range guidance for December 5 – 11 shows a continuing block, keeping Alaska bitter, with mild Pacific winds pumping 40s, 50s and 60s into the Lower 48 states.
Monday: Hints of Early April? A strong warm front may spark showers, even a stray T-shower Monday. South of the warm frontal boundary highs may reach the 60s in Iowa and Nebraska, 50s into southern Minnesota. Slightly cooler weather returns Tuesday, but temperatures recover into the 40s and 50s again by late next week as Pacific air continues to overwhelm the Lower 48. Map above: WSI.
Temperature Readjustment? The long-range 16-day GFS shows significantly colder air returning by December 12-13, a storm tracking just south and east of Minnesota capable of triggering some accumulating snow. My confidence level is still low, but it sounds right – with a sun angle as low as it is in mid-January it can’t stay in the 40s and 50s much for an extended period, at least not in December.

Flu Outbreaks Predicted With Weather Forecasting Techniques. Outbreaks of flu tend to follow specific weather patterns – which is interesting. Predict the weather (accurately) and maybe you can predict when you’ll come down with the crud? Lovely. Details fromUCAR: “…In previous work, Shaman and colleagues had found that wintertime U.S. flu epidemics tended to occur following very dry weather. Using a prediction model that incorporates this finding, Shaman and co-author Alicia Karspeck, an NCAR scientist, used Web-based estimates of flu-related sickness from the winters of 2003–04 to 2008–09 in New York City to retrospectively generate weekly flu forecasts. They found that the technique could predict the peak timing of the outbreak more than seven weeks in advance of the actual peak. “Analogous to weather prediction, this system can potentially be used to estimate the probability of regional outbreaks of the flu several weeks in advance,” Karspeck says. “One exciting element of this work is that we’ve applied quantitative forecasting techniques developed within the geosciences community to the challenge of real-time infectious disease prediction. This has been a tremendously fruitful cross-disciplinary collaboration.”


Photo credit above: “Pedestrians contend with wintry weather in Boulder, Colorado. As flu outbreaks peak during the colder months, researchers are employing techniques from weather prediction to forecast outbreak timing and severity.” UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin.
Trees Are Shedding Leaves Later Than Usual. Here’s a clip from “Scientists examined changes in the growing season over the Northern Hemisphere during 1982 to 2008 and found that end of the growing season has shifted to later in the year. Scientists regard changes in the growing season as an important indicator of the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change. The results of the research werepublished in the July 2011 issue of the journal Global Change Biology and were furtherreviewed by Climate Central on October 17, 2012. To measure the length of the growing season, scientists used NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) data collected by satellites to estimate the “greenness” of vegetation growing across the Northern Hemisphere during 1982 to 2008. The NDVI calculates how much visible light is absorbed by vegetation. Healthy vegetation absorbs most visible light…”

Sandy Damage Rivals Katrina. Sandy wasn’t as intense as Katrina, but it was 3 times larger, impacting an area 900 miles wide with tropical storm force winds or stronger. And it came ashore over a very heavily populated part of the USA. My hunch: Sandy will wind up costing over $100 billion. NBC News has more details: ”Although Hurricane Katrina took more lives when it hit the Gulf Coast, the economic and housing damage brought by Hurricane Sandy was much larger with losses already topping $71 billion. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.”

Seas Rising Faster Than Projected, Low Areas Threatened. What, scientists were actually conservative with their estimates? But let’s keep ignoring the elephant in the dining room (or in this case, on the coast). Reuters has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Sea levels are rising 60 percent faster than U.N. projections, threatening low-lying areas from Miami to the Maldives, a study said on Wednesday. The report, issued during U.N. talks in Qatar on combating climate change, also said temperatures were creeping higher in line with U.N. scenarios, rejecting hopes the rate had been exaggerated. ”Global warming has not slowed down, (nor is it) lagging behind the projections,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, lead author at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research that compared U.N. projections to what has actually happened from the early 1990s to 2011…”Photo credit : “Erosion caused by high water is seen along the beach on Sullivans Island, S.C., in this photograph made on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Scientists at Clemson University and Georgia Tech have proposed it could be possible to raise the coastline during an era of sea level rise by injecting sediment-laden slurry into fractures beneath the earth’s surface.” (AP Photo/Bruce Smith).

In Sandy’s Wake, Lessons About Fire Safety More Relevant Than Ever. I know it’s counterintuitive (during a flooding storm surge), but fire was a huge hazard with Sandy. More details from Benzinga: “…Many people still keep traditional candles as part of their hurricane or disaster preparedness kit. But these candles can create extra hazards if left unattended, even for a short time. In some cases, homeowners fall asleep with a candle burning and wake up to find the house burning around them. Battery operated candles are a much safer alternative and can also last much longer than regular candles…”

Photo credit above: “The ruins of burned out homes are framed by surviving buildings in the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. A fire destroyed more than 100 homes in the oceanfront community during the storm.” (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Turning To The Cloud In A Disaster. With Sandy I saw a number of people fleeing with photo albums and thumbdrives, even some lugging home computers filled with family memories. It was a reminder (to me) to back stuff up, the things that can’t be replaced (like family photos and videos). The cloud is one good option, as Cisco explains: “Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy barreled up the East Coast, devastating parts of densely populated New York and New Jersey, the full costs of the megastorm are still being assessed. The “once-a-century” storm left more than 8 million homes and businesses without power, shutting down everything from oil refineries to transportation to the stock market. The disruption could shave a half percentage point off of GDP. Behind those statistics are millions of businesses, big and small, grappling with new questions disaster preparedness in an age of extreme weather. And, increasingly, they are concluding that the answers may lie in the cloud…”

“Ask Paul”. Weather-related Q&A:
Last year it was a brown Christmas and that happens from time to time. When was the last time we had 2 brown Christmas in a row?
Chanhassen, MN
Mike – I asked my friend and contact at the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, Pete Boulay, about your question and here is his response: “The last time there was an inch of snow or less on the ground for two years in a row was Christmas 1976 and 1977. It also happened in 1957 and 1958 and 43-44, 30-31, 22-23,  and there was a three years in a row from 1904-06.”
California City Building “Tsunami-Resistant” Port. has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…Port officials are hoping that tsunami is among the last of many that have forced major repairs in Crescent City, a tiny commercial fishing village on California’s rugged northern coast. Officials are spending $54 million to build the West Coast’s first harbor able to withstand the kind of tsunami expected to hit once every 50 years – the  same kind that hit in 2011, when the highest surge in the boat basin measured 8.1 feet (2.5 meters) and currents were estimated at 22 feet (6.7 meters) per second. Officials are building 244 new steel pilings that will be 30 inches (76 centimeters) in diameter and 70 feet (21 meters) long. Thirty feet (9 meters) or more will be sunk into bedrock. The dock nearest the entrance will be 16 feet (5 meters) long and 8 feet (2.4 meters) deep to dampen incoming waves. The pilings will extend 18 feet (5.5 meters) above the water so that surges 7 1/2 feet (2.3 meters) up and 7 1/2 feet down will not rip docks loose…”
Image above: NOAA.
California Confronts A Sea Change. The story from The Los Angeles Times; here’s the introduction: “Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey don’t need to wait on gridlocked Washington to confront future risks from climate-change intensified storms. They can instead look at how California is already moving forward on common-sense adaptations, and do it themselves. With 3.5 million Californians living within three feet of sea level, and the best available science projecting a 3- to 5-foot rise in sea level for the state by 2100, doing nothing would be irresponsible. In Northern California, rising sea levels are projected to affect more than a quarter of a million people and threaten more than $60 billion in infrastructure in the San Francisco Bay/Delta region, putting power stations, water-treatment plants, roads, buildings and the San Francisco and Oakland airports (both built on filled wetlands) at risk. In Southern California, scientists point to the loss of 3,000 beachfront homes to major El Niño winter storms in the 1980s as suggestive of what climate change has in store…”Photo credit above: “In Newport Beach in Southern California, city planners are looking into raising sea walls in waterfront neighborhoods like Balboa Island that are prone to flooding.” (Los Angeles Times)
SGI Twitter Heat Map: Supercomputer Show Where The Angriest Tweeters Live. This is pretty cool, in a depressing sort of way. Silicon Graphics supercomputers can map, in real-time, where happy vs. angry tweets are sent from, worldwide. Here is aHuffington Post story showing how SGI leveraged this new technology tracking tweets during Superstorm Sandy: “…The Global Twitter Heartbeat tracks about 10 percent of the 500 million tweets posted daily — that’s approximately 50 million posts analyzed each day. Thus far, SGI has created heat maps illustrating people’s feelings on Twitter aboutHurricane Sandy and the 2012 election night. To see the project in action, watch the clip below, showing how U.S. tweets were affected as the so-called “Frankenstorm” barreled up the East Coast in late October. (Red patches represent negative sentiments. Blue patches are positive.)
Ocearch Global Shark Tracker. No weather to track? No worries! Now you can track sharks, in near-real-time. Crazy, but check out this link. Happy to see Lake Mille Lacs and Superior are (still!) shark-free. Yep, you can find just about anything online.
Rolling Blue Waves Hit The Antarctic Coastline. What created this amazing photo? Details via Yahoo: “These brilliant blue beauties, which look like tidal waves frozen at their highest point, were captured by French astrophysicist (and part-time photographer) Tony Travouillon as he travelled across Antarctica.”Photo credit: “Don’t expect to see surfboards – or snowboards – on these majestic frozen outcroppings near the Dumont D’Urville research station in Antarctica.” Photo by Tony Travouillon.

Ring Around The Moon. Here’s a great example of the 22 degree halo, white moonlight being refracted (bent) by ice crystals in cirrus clouds 25,000 feet above the ground. Details via Aaron Rigsby and WeatherNation TV.

Cat Interrupts Univision Weather Report. This is pretty funny – the forecast calls for…cats? Note how cool the weatherguy is – I’m amazed he didn’t crack up? Must be a dog-lover. Details via YouTube: “There are several cats that have turned the Univision parking lot into their home and sometimes they make it into the studio. This cat just walked right through the weatherman’s report. Follow us @UnivisionNews.”
Climate Stories…

What Role Did Climate Change Play In Superstorm Sandy? PropertyCasualty360.comattempts to connect the weather and climate dots; here’s an excerpt: “Superstorm Sandy, a “perfect storm” that was caused by an unusual combination of seasonal weather phenomena converging above the Northeast, has stirred some conversation in the media about whether the storm was caused, or made worse, by climate change. Scientists have long warned about the risk of a deadly hurricane over the Tri-State area, which would suggest Sandy could be an expected weather event. But recent studies, including areport co-authored by MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel in February 2012, note that climate change could combine with the  effects of storm surge to cause 100-year-flooding to occur every two decades in New York, suggesting that an event like Sandy may be more than just a long-expected storm…”

Photo credit above: (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Climate Change Threat Looms Over Ski Industry. This may be relevant to Minnesota and Wisconsin resorts as well, as snowfall has become spotty and irregular in recent years – not the predictable snow we saw in the 60s, 70s and early 80s. The Boston Globereports: ”…Snow making will become even more important in the coming decades as New England’s natural snowfalls diminish, according to Scott’s study. Resorts are already spending millions of dollars to increase their capacity — Stowe Mountain Resort in northern Vermont spent $4.7 million this year alone — and by the 2020s, Vermont and New Hampshire resorts may have to increase their snow making output by as much as 50 percent. “Man-made snow is such an integral part of skiing on the East Coast,” said Greg Kwasnik, spokesman for Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, N.H. “People may not realize it, but man-made snow is what makes it all possible.” But snow making also depends on the weather cooperating — the temperature has to be in the low 20s or colder...”Photo credit above: “Jake Bartlett stepped into his snowboard at Sugarbush Mountain. Ski area operators have high hopes for the season.” By Katie Johnston. Globe Staff /  November 26, 2012

Melting Permafrost A New Peril In Global Warming: U.N. The concern is methane – as permafrost melts methane is released, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This causes warming, which melts more permafrost, releasing more methane (etc etc). This is one of several “positive feedbacks” climate scientists are concerned about, as reported by Reuters: “Permafrost lands across Siberia and Alaska that contain vast stores of carbon are beginning to thaw, bringing with it the threat of a big increase in global warming by 2100, a U.N. report said on Tuesday. A thaw of the vast areas of permanently frozen ground in Russia, Canada, China and the United States also threatens local homes, roads, railways and oil pipelines, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) said in the report which was released at the U.N. climate talks being held this week and next in Qatar. ”Permafrost has begun to thaw,” Kevin Schaefer, lead author at the University of Colorado told a news conference in Doha…” Photo: NASA.

Researchers Head To Coldest Place On Earth For Global Warming Insight. The Olympian has the story – here’s a clip: “…For almost a month, the group will sleep in tents and toil for up to 15 hours a day in converted shipping containers. Temperatures hover around 5 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 mph winds create massive snowdrifts and whiteouts. The reason for enduring that misery would seem to be a contradiction. Their work will provide crucial insight into global warming. The NIU professors are researchers in a key part of a $10 million National Science Foundation project known as WISSARD, for Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling. It’s a long-winded phrase for an effort aimed at studying ice sheet stability and subglacial life in West Antarctica. That’s an important region for climate change. Scientific evidence indicates that relatively recent instability in the Antarctic ice sheet, which covers the land, is raising sea levels…”

Read more here:
U.N. Report Warns Of Widening Climate GapThe Daily Herald has the story – here’s the introduction: “A U.N. report on rising greenhouse gas emissions reminded world governments Wednesday that their efforts to fight climate change are far from enough to meet their stated goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). The report by the U.N. Environment Program, released just days ahead of a major climate conference, said the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is up about 20 percent since 2000. Scientists say those emissions are contributing to climate change and that failure to contain them could have dangerous consequences, including rising sea levels inundating coastal cities, dramatic shifts in rainfall disrupting agriculture and drinking water, the spread of diseases and the extinction of species…”
Photo credit: “In this Dec. 16, 2009 file photo, steam and smoke rise from a coal burning power plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. A United Nations report on rising greenhouse gas emissions reminded world governments Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 that their efforts to fight climate change are far from enough to meet their stated goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 F).” (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Climate Change: Natural Disasters Made History In 2011. The story from; here’s a clip: “Many of the worst natural disasters of 2011 were also the most severe the affected countries had ever experienced, revealed the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2013, which was released in Doha on 27 November. Brazil, Cambodia, El Salvador,Laosand Thailand appear in the CRI’s 10 most-affected countries; all recorded their severest natural hazards-related catastrophes in 2011. Floods and landslides claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people and caused almost US$5 billion in direct losses in Brazil, said the index, which is produced by the NGO Germanwatch. Thailand is listed as 2011’s most natural disaster-affected country. The country experienced its worst flooding ever that year, triggered by the landfall of Tropical Storm Nock-ten. The flooding led to losses worth $43 billion, making it one of the most costly natural disasters of the world…”

Photo credit above: “Thailand experienced its worst flooding in 2011.” Photo: Shermaine Ho/IRIN.



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

Countdown to Meteorological Winter…

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

We are less than 3 days away from Meteorological Winter marking the date when the coldest 3 months, on average, for the Northern Hemisphere are upon us (December, January, February). Meteorological Winter rings in this Saturday, December 1st, but it’ll feel quite a bit warmer than that by then.

Bracing For Winter…

Folks across the Northeast encountered some wintry weather on Tuesday… this was the scene from Bucks county, PA.

Northeast Snow Reports

Here are a few of the higher totals that came in on Tuesday. Not a ‘Weather Wow’ but certainly enough to shovel and create some major headaches on the roads.

Snowfall Analysis

The National Weather Service snowfall analysis map shows where most of the snow fell on Tuesday…

2012 November Snowfall

Here are some of the November snowfall tallies across parts of the Northeast.

2011 November Snowfall

For you snow lovers out there… 2012 is doing better than 2011. Last November, there wasn’t much snow from these same reporting stations was there?

National Snow Cover 2011

2011 was a pretty dismal year for snow… The persistent drought through the rest of the helped create terrible drought conditions this summer, which continues for some today. Through today’s date in 2011, 8.9% of the country had some snow on the ground.

November 2012 Snow Cover

We are doing a little bit better this year. Nearly 20% of the country has some type of snow cover.

November 2012 Snow Cover

Both this year and last doesn’t even compare to that of 2010. On today’s date back in 2010, nearly one-third of the nation was covered in snow.

Minneapolis Winter of 2010-2011

The winter 2 years ago for the Twin Cities was a doorbuster! In fact, 86.6″ of snow at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport was the 4th snowiest winter on record! Nearly half of that came in one storm… the same storm that collapsed the roof the Metrodome!

Twin Cities Dismal Winter of 2011-2012

Incredibly, one year later… the Twin Cities had their 9th least snow winter on record with only 22.3″ of snow!

2012-2013 So Far…

So far, the Twin Cities is doing even worse! Last November, there was 3.0″ of snow and we’ve only seen 0.8″ of snow this November! It appears that we’ll be tied for the 10th least snowy November on record too! By the way, 0.8″ of snow is all we’ve seen so far this season, which puts us nearly 8″ behind normal snowfall season to date.

Twin Cities

This is wonderful news for commuters, but for those that like to play in the snow… we’re still looking for that big dump!

Midwest Snow From Normal

This is a look at how much snow we are behind normal so far this season… It’s not much and certainly nothing that couldn’t be caught up by in one snow storm, but the drought continues…

Closer Look…

Look at Milwaukee, WI – Yes, 2.2″ of snow behind normal isn’t much for the season, but do you realize how long it’s been since we’ve had measurable snow?

Milwaukee Snowless Landscape

Here’s another winterless landscape… Milwaukee, WI

3rd Longest Stretch…

Can you believe that it has been 268 days (as of Tuesday) since we’ve had our last measurable snow? That’s the 3rd longest stretch in history!

December on Hold

To make matters worse, it appears that we’ll be WARMING as we start Meteorological Winter this Saturday. The forecast calls for temps near 60° with rain?? Good grief, what’s going on? By the middle part of next week, forecasts suggests a cold front moving through with daytime highs getting back into the 30s.

A Chance For Snow?

As this cold front pushes through, temperatures COULD be cold enough for a little snow. The GFS extended forecast is suggesting the potential for a light dusting by Wednesday. But as the old adage states, “when in a drought, don’t predict rain” (or snow)… Stay tuned!

Thanks for checking in, have a great rest of your week!

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