Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The cold comeith!

Forsyth Missouri – Saturday, November the 26th marked a turning point on what had been a rather nice regime. What had been a warm and fuzzy environment became, quite suddenly, a blustery cold shoulder that was much more in line with the time of year. It was, after all, late Fall and Old Man Winter was a knocking at the door.

While I was dozing a rainy and overcast afternoon away, long about 3:00 pm, the winds which had been idling out of the east suddenly shifted into high gear from the north! I awakened to find the mercury dropping rather smartly from a nice 59F to a chilly 43F in rather short order. Ah, I thought at the time, the party she is over.

Note the abrupt change in the temperature profile at 3PM. This clearly marked the passage of a trough behind which cold Canadian air filtered in. A steep pressure gradient aided in helping to keep the winds gusting up to 15 mph with a sustained flow at about 6 mph.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Weather regime is changing in late November 2011

Someone must have inadvertently hit the switch a little early this season as I am seeing a marked change in the weather patterns. I think cold and unsettled would be two good descriptors to use.

What had been warm and balmy conditions with highs reaching the upper fifties and low sixties the last full week of November, now a change seems to be on hand as the area here in southwest Missouri should experience a series of re-enforcing cold shots from upper level troughs over much of next week. This will keep the temperatures in only the forties for the daytime and into the 20’s at night. Then, towards the weekend another active system is expected to make an entrance along with increased chances for precipitation. The only question I have is what form the precipitation will take!

That weekend, by the way, will put us into the beginning of December with only a few weeks to go before the first day of winter begins on the 21st. Now would be a good time to make sure you have stowed some winter essentials into your vehicle in case the weather gets nasty while you’re out.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sliding into Winter!

Somewhere between the end of November and the 21st of December when winter officially begins we see things getting a little bit nasty. The combination of longer nights with the higher angles of sunlight striking the ground turn the northern hemisphere of earth much colder on average than what they are in the summer months. Add to this the effects of global warming which shift the curve of extreme weather to become more likely and you have a recipe for some interesting wintertime events to occur. In my part of the world, that would translate quite often into ice storms.

So am I saying that we will experience more ice storms for the winter of 2011-12 here in southwest Missouri? No, I saying that the ODDS are getting more and more stacked in that direction. So, while we might have a nice mild and dry winter, the odds are increasingly against it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CO2 as a benchmark for changes in climate!

"We are experiencing the greatest wave of extinctions since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Extinction rates are rising by a factor of up to 1,000 above natural rates. Every hour, three species disappear. Every day, up to 150 species are lost. Every year, between 18,000 and 55,000 species become extinct. The cause: human activities." (Ahmed Djoghlaf, head of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity)

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I read somewhere that weather is the day to day reality of climate. While you can observe one the other stays well hidden. So, when a climatologist is asked pointedly if global warming is a fact, they cannot answer the question. But, if you were the rephrase it and ask, ‘are climatic trends loading the odds in favor of a warmer climate?’ You would more than likely get a positive answer.

Since I am not a scientist and therefore lack any credibility, I’ll answer the first question more matter of factly. ‘You bet you fanny it’s getting warmer and the worst is yet to come.’

I can say that not only because I’m not a scientist but also because you don’t have to be one to figure out that the species known as man is spewing carbon into the atmosphere as fast as he can go. There's an estimated 7 billion of us cooking and heating with gas, oil or coal or just finding whatever it is we can burn. As the earth warms from this activity, the weather tends to become a little more severe and even occasionally flaky. What's this mean for the future of the planet?

Looking at an ice core graph taken from Vostok, Antarctica, you can tell by the blue line that the amount of CO2 in the air in parts per million has never reached much above 300 ppm (red line) in over four hundred million years! It’s also pretty easy to see that every time those readings went up to that level, the earth was quickly plunged into another ice age. Looks like a pretty regular pattern doesn’t it? First the CO2 rises as does the global temperatures and then, in a relatively short time, down everything goes into the ice freezer. Now, while there are all sorts of theories as to the actual mechanisms at work here, everyone agrees that the CO2 levels along with other indicators like methane are good benchmarks to use. Anyone want to guess where the CO2 level is at today (see small graph)? Here’s a hint:

One other point. With a world population that is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050, it's hard to see how we are going to curb carbon emissions to any significant degree. And, even if we could manage that miracle, many resources like food and fresh water will certainly become more scarce. Famine, disease and war could well become the norm. Not a very pretty picture for the future of this planet and it's inhabitants. While I think most adults now living will escape the direst of these futures, certainly our children and their children may face a perilous existence that would be brutal and short.

What's the answer to all my doom and gloom? Immediate and severe population control! We need the human population of earth to be cut in half, at the very least, over the next one hundred years. This can be done by the hand of man or by nature or of God. If man is going to do it, he'd better get on his high horse because time is flying by. My personal bet is on Nature and God.

Tracking the weather in a simple data file!

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One of the fun things I do on a daily basis is to summarize the day with some simple text and graphics. Here is a sample for Nov 17, 2011. Note the weather radar for that date in 2000.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mid November Weather Summary for 2011 in Forsyth Missouri

Eight degrees would be a good place to start when describing the weather for the first half of this month here in Forsyth Missouri. That’s eight degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the normal of 45°F (source: West Plains, Mo. average). What’s somewhat interesting is that while the highs where not far out of the range, the nighttime temperatures were markedly warmer (only three days oiut of the 15 below the average low mark). Food for thought concerning global warming.

November is also starting out strong in terms of precipitation with3.69 inches recorded already against a monthly average of 4.92 inches giving us just 1.23 inches to go.

The turning of the leaves was one of the best in my memory, but by the fifteenth, they have all pretty much been stripped from the trees. Strong gusty winds over the last few days helped that process out a lot!

While I’m as far from being a weather scientist as you can get, I do pay attention when other experts talk and try and be as objective as I can from observations I make directly. My gut feeling is that, yes it has been warmer than normal. I’ve also seen this expressed in plants in my garden that should have been history by now, but which are still growing!

Having said that, I did notice that the latest Arctic Oscillation graph looks to be more and more negative. Does that portend nastier than normal things to come? I  don’t know and neither does anyone else, although some would say that the odds are being stacked more and more in that direction. Time will tell on that observation.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A good start for November 2011!

 The last couple of days have been good ones! At least weather wise. The first and second days of November 2011 were pretty much ‘picture perfect’ as far as I was concerned. On the 1st, I went down below my house to the River Run Park area for a nice walk in my short sleeves. The winds were somewhat playful on the 74F day. They’d switch direction more often than a woman changes her mind. But, I didn’t find that a problem. For the most part they were light and most importantly, they were warm!

While others were hard at work on this Tuesday after Halloween, I had the good fortune to be out here, sitting on a concrete bench at a campsite taking in the sights and sounds of fall. With me were just a couple of people; a young girl and her dog out walking and someone (not sure of the gender) who appeared to be asleep in the back of her vehicle. Just a pair of stocking feet stick out the back to attest to the fact!

As I sat there, I could tell that fall was well on its way with colder days just ahead. Most of the trees around me; sycamores, maples oaks and the like have all changed color not with a few trees completely stripped. Thank God for the cedar trees that stay green year round!
On Tuesday, I decided to drive down past the park and have a light lunch by Swan Creek. A creek in name only as it was completely dry on this date. As you can see, the recent flood did a number on the road! Also, many of the trees are dead in this area due to flood water that persisted for months on end.

While this afternoon was not quite as nice as the day before, it still beats the heck out of what’s coming later today when a mean old cold front come barreling out of the northwest! I understand the states of Colorado

 and Nebraska both got a dose of snow. A little early for all that nonsense, but Mother Nature does her thing no matter what I say!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Weather Service uses the 'S' word for the first time this season!

Well, they’ve gone and done it! The National Weather Service for the Springfield Missouri area has used the ‘S’now word for the first time this season. Seems that Wednesday night, November the 2nd might see a chance of some snow flurries as a projected storm system moves through the region.

If that does come to pass, it will be one of the earliest occurrences of snow I can remember in quite some time. Here’s the exact quote, “Main concerns are fire weather today and rain/TSTM chances Wed/Wed night (and a little bit of snow Wed night??). Later concerns are another frontal passage over the weekend...then more rain chances next week.

Ah, snow in the first days of November! Yeah, that sounds about right!

October 2011 Wx Recap for Forsyth Missouri

Location: Forsyth, Missouri

October 2011 turned out to be a pretty normal month when compared to historical averages. The mean temperature for the month was 56°F as compared to a historical average of 57°F. (source: West Plains, Mo.). Just a degree cooler. Rainfall lagged behind the normal amount, as I recorded only 2.65 inches against an average of 3.39 inches (data also from West Plains, Mo.). So, we were a little dryer than normal, a trend that the weather service thinks will carry on through the balance of this year.

Energy Use

I was surprised, in a good way, with the fact that my use of electricity came in at only 395 kilowatts for the entire month! This represented a 44% reduction over the year before! So, I hopefully doing something right in my efforts to reign in my energy cost.

November 2011

Looking ahead, I’m pretty sure the month of November will pose an even bigger challenge as the mean temperature looks to drop twelve degrees from 57°F to 45°F. This will mean that some of the nighttime temperatures may likely flirt at or slightly below freezing on some days which is also the lower limit of the efficiency rating for my heat pump. On those cold days, I plan to implement my ‘space heater plan’ (see a Roomy Experiment) to help keep the costs down. It’s interesting to note that last year I used 922 kilowatts of power in a month that saw a mean temperature of 48.5°F versus a historical average of 45°F. I can always hope that this year will turn out to be even a little warmer than 2010 was.

A parting word on the Arctic Oscillation – it turned negative for the last week of October. Just in time for that ‘rare’ snowstorm that took eleven lives and plunged millions into darkness when the power failed. I’ll keep a close eye on this in the future.