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By Bob Valen 

Sailing on top of the world


Last updated 10/27/2018 at 11:48am

Commerce, likely many other things, is dependent on current weather and long-term climate. Our regional wheat growers know that our climate is conducive to their work and production. The same applies to the transportation of goods. Be they from a farm or a manufacturing plant, the goods have to be brought to market. We know that major weather events can cause havoc on the highways, rail systems and open seas. Climate change will affect the transportation of goods as weather events change.

A recent article I read piqued my attention regarding transportation. A new ocean transport route is opening for the movement of goods in an area once thought off limits. In August, a container ship, Venta Maersk, traveled from Vladivostok, Russia to the Norwegian Sea using the Arctic Route to Saint Petersburg, Russia. Sea lanes are opening up in the Arctic Ocean for one reason — climate change. There are four recognized shipping routes up on top of the Earth. Of them, the Northern Sea Route is most promising to shippers. The website “Geography of Transport Systems” tells of the benefits: “It would reduce a maritime journey between East Asia and Western Europe from 21,000 km using the Suez Canal to 12,800 km, cutting transit time by 10-15 days.”

This new route still presents issues, especially during the winter months. Further, no one can provide specific details as to when, or if, climate change will continue at the pace we are witnessing today. The website further explains that the winter freeze closes the route down. There really isn’t much economic activity around the Arctic Circle. Also, it’s still a “frontier” regarding weather monitoring and forecasting, which hamstrings shipping companies. Nevertheless, commercial shipping in the Arctic Ocean is active and appealing for economic reasons.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center tells us, “Arctic sea ice extent for September 2018 averaged 4.71 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles), tying with 2008 for the sixth lowest September in the 1979 to 2018 satellite record. This was 1.70 million square kilometers (656,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average, and 1.14 million square kilometers (440,000 square miles) above the record low recorded for September 2012.

Looking down the road for the next few months — a look at the crystal ball, if you will — let’s see what we may anticipate weather-wise. The Climate Prediction Center, CPC, is currently showing above-normal temperatures for our region into December. Precipitation is predicted to be below normal into December as well. Still looking like winter may start mildly. Also, the National Drought Monitor is showing our region to be in “D0” condition – abnormally dry.

Here’s what September brought us weather-wise. Our high temperature was 90.1˚F and the low was 40.1˚F as measured at my home weather station. The mean for the month was 61.9˚F. The all-time high was 104˚F in 1938, while the all-time low as 30˚F in 1982. The all-time mean temperature for September is 63.8˚F. Precipitation was on the lean side. I measured only 0.07 inches of rain at the home weather station. The mean precipitation for September is 0.48 inches. So, we were well below that figure. The maximum precipitation for the month was back in 1985 with 2.08 inches.

You can expect a full moon on October 24. Not just any full moon; it’s called full Hunter’s Moon and follows the full Harvest Moon. It’s the closest full moon to the autumn equinox.


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