Most significant weather/climate events of 2015:Since we will all be enjoying the holiday break over the next two weeks, I thought it might be of interest to highlight some of the most significant weather/climate events of 2015. Of course this is just my opinion, recognizing each of us may rank these events differently, and I may be faulted for leaving something out. But here goes:
Grandest Event of all: The Paris COP21 Conference demonstrating that nearly 200 countries agree that climate change is real, resulting in widespread consequences already in play around the world. Most comprehensive action agenda is agreed to, but in voluntary terms of compliance, not binding treaties. Nevertheless progress is made, and further many parties step up on pledging financial support for those who want to make their economies and infrastructure more resilient to climate change, as well as those countries that want to limit their carbon footprint and take measures to mitigate the pace of change. Much work is ahead but attitudes toward making some real changes are boosted significantly.
On the more local scale, here is a ranking and some thoughts:
1. First week of May, 94% of the Minnesota landscape is in drought.
Prospects for the 2015 growing season are uncertain with visions of diminished yield potential.
Remarkable turnout in the weather, so that by the first week of June, drought has been alleviated across the state setting up a remarkably successful growing season, best in over 50 years!
2. Remarkably warm last four months of the year give Minnesota one of the warmest years in state history. Roughly 75 percent of all days over September 1 to December 22nd are warmer than normal, with some record-setting maximum daily temperatures, and a prolific number of record-setting warm minimum temperatures. 2015 is likely to rank among the 5 or 6 warmest years in state history.
3. Warm, sultry weather over July 12-13 produces dangerous Heat Index Values (96°F to 111°F) across portions of the state, and a devastating straight-line wind storm across the Brainerd Lakes Area. This storm caused widespread damage and closed down many resorts for a time during the peak of the summer vacation season.
4. Invention of the Summer Glory Index (SGI) by the Minnesota State Climatology Office. As a counter to the many climate indices that are used to describe climate threats and discomforts, here is one that salutes and ranks the most comfortable aspects of climate here in Minnesota. The summer of 2015 ranked as the 3rd best historically using the SGI trailing only 1922 and 2008.
5. Warmest October 11th in state history with over 30 communities reporting afternoon highs in the 90s F. It was 96°F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) and 97°F at Sabin (Clay County), equivalent to the same climate conditions as Phoenix, AZ that day. The old state record high was 92°F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1928.
Outlook:The balance of the holiday season will bring mostly warmer than normal temperatures with some chances for mixed precipitation, perhaps more widespread snow by New Year's Eve. Warmer than normal temperatures will prevail through the first week of January as well.
Happy Holidays and Wishes for a Safe and Peaceful New Year!