December 1st marks the first day of (meteorological/climatological) winter and the end of Fall so let us look back at the previous month and season. The most interesting aspect of the Fall season this year is the wide swings and semi-permanent trends in temperature and precipitation. After going most of the year withcooler than normal temperatures, September provided us with awesome weather (just way to dry). High temps were in the 70s and we had the most sunny days I can ever remember in the month of September. It was also the record driest September for Wausau. Once October hit, the weather changed to a cloudy, damp, cooler pattern. The weather remained gloomy the entire month and it ended up being the 8th coolest and 8th wettest October on record for Wausau. It WASthe wettest October on record for Marshfield, with just over 6 inches of precipitation. Amazingly, the weather turned mild and relatively dry once again for November. In fact, the average high temperature for November was 48.7 which was nearly a degree warmer than October (48.1)!! There were only 3 days in November with high temps in the 30s, otherwise it was all 40s, 50s, and 3 days in the 60s. We didn’t shatter multiple daily records but the month will go down as the second warmest on record (according to my preliminary numbers). The only daily record that was broken in Wausau occurred on the 25th when we marked a record warm low temperature of 40 degrees. Precipitation was once again well below normal but we did not break a record. Here are the preliminary stats for November 2009 in Wausau:
Average High: 48.7 (normal: 40.1)
Average Low: 31.6 (normal: 24.6)
Precipitation: 0.65″ (normal: 2.20″)
Snowfall: Trace (normal: 7.1″)
Highest Temp: 66 on the 7th
Lowest Temp: 21 on the 16th
Now that we are heading into December it looks like temps will be turning colder once again, but I don’t expect that trend to hold on for the entire month. Starting tomorrow afternoon temps will go below normal and remain that way through at least the middle of next week. Highs will only be in the 20s from Thursday through Tuesday. Late next week or toward the middle of December, thee are hints that a milder pattern will take hold again. This should be expected since we do have a moderate El Nino occurring in the Pacific. The El Nino will not completely prevent bitter cold and heavy snow from affecting our area, just that any outbreaks of “real” winter should be less intense and shorter than most Wisconsin winters. It will be colder over the next week or so but not much snow is expected. The only locations in the state that could end up with a few inches are in the far north where a little lake effect snow could pile up – mainly in Vilas, Iron, and Ashland counties. The cold weather will mean good news for some snow lover’s – Granite Peak should be able to operate their snow machines non-stop from late Wednesday afternoon through early next week. No doubt they will be able to get a few runs open soon.
The leaked CRU emails now have a name “Climategate”. Here is another opinion piece that is rather harsh on the CRU and the climatologists involved in hiding or destroying data and preventing dissenting theories from being published. The author calls it the “greatest scandal of a generation”. I admit that it does look very bad, but I do not have access to all the emails to get a more comprehensive view. Also, It is not yet known whether all the emails are authentic, although some have been corroborated. Still, if the emails revealed thus far are accurate, then those at the top should face consequences. The 20 or 30 climatologists acting in this unethical and unscientific manner have cast doubt upon many hard-working scientists who have been open and honest about climate theory and the data.
In other news, we are all now “criminals”, according to Newscientist.com. Everyday comforts that modern society has provided us are now being criminalized – at least conceptually- which is always the starting point for new laws and associated punishment. On the list of criminal activities is drinking coffee, using toilet paper, buying new clothes, washing clothes, and wasting food. I am all for encouraging people to use less, to not waste, and be smart about energy usage – I do it every week here in the weather blog – but I never call these things criminal activities. I did start drinking a little coffee this year so they can lock me up for that one. I don’t need to drink coffee, I get some caffeine from green tea and various energy drinks, which makes me wonder how those compare on the list of eco-criminal activities. I use soft toilet paper most of the time so I am guilty on that count as well. I don’t buy new clothes very often so maybe the jury will grant me leniency. I usually wear my clothes until the fall apart. As far as washing clothes, I don’t wear once and wash for everything. Shirts, sweaters, and pants I wear a couple of times before washing, as long as they do not get smelly or dirty. This does save on my water and electricity bill.
On food wasting, I think I do pretty well. I would estimate I throw away well less than 10% of the food I purchase. I was amazed when I read that stat that U.S. households throw away 30% of the food produced in this country. Then I read in to it a bit more and found that this includes food wastage/spoilage that occurs at the farm and factory – which individually we are not responsible for. I thought about what spoilage occurs in my garden and I think it is unfair to characterize this as criminal activity. This year, because of the cool dry summer, most of my peppers spoiled or did not ripen before the first frost. Does this count as food spoilage? Am I a climate criminal because I planted some crops and was unable to harvest them all?
On a brighter note, for those of you who are following the Virgin Galactic story and waiting for your chance to take a trip to the edge of space, it looks like things are moving along pretty well. Here is an article that charts the progress so far. It is estimate that the first tourists will fly on SpaceShip2 in late 2010 or 2011. Seems like forever, then again, 2010 is only 30 days away.
It seems everyone is getting into space exploration lately. Even New Zealand launched a rocket recently (video included). It only traveled to the edge of space, but a great accomplishment none-the-less. Hurray for the Kiwis!
Have a fine Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on December 1, 2009