Mother Nature's Polling Numbers Are Sky-High!

"A man says a lot of things in summer he doesn’t mean in winter" wrote Patricia Briggs. These days I'm almost relieved when I can talk about the weather. It may be one of the few things we can agree on.

Half the year Minnesota meteorologists (myself included) use the term "Canadian cold front" as a pejorative. Until a dollop of fresh, clean air direct from Alberta sweeps away the heat and humidity.

I wonder if good-natured Canadians refer to hot fronts bubbling up from the south as "American Air"?

Sunshine lures the mercury into the low 80s this afternoon, with dry weather into the evening hours. Rain arrives tonight and models print out half an inch to an inch of water tomorrow, with a few renegade showers spilling into Friday.

An instability shower may sprout Saturday afternoon, but most of the weekend looks dry, with 70s north and low 80s south.

More refreshing air of Canadian ancestry arrives Monday, with a winning-streak of 70-degree highs much of next week.

This premature taste of September is a temporary correction. Odds favor more 90s in August and a sweaty State Fair. 

Free Watering. The 00z NAM model from NOAA prints out over 1" of additional rain Thursday into Friday, with locally higher amounts possible. My hunch: Thursday will be the wettest day of the week. Map:

Don't Write Off Hot Weather Just Yet. Minnesota and the rest of the Upper Midwest gets a nice break from heat and humidity the next 2 weeks (making up for the 6th hottest first-half of meteorological summer on record). But long-range GFS guidance hints at a building ridge over the western and central states by the first week of August. More 90s? Count on it.

Only 63 Tornado Watches Have Been Issued So Far in 2018, the Fewest in More Than 12 Years. Weather Underground has details: " The number of tornado watches that have been issued so far this year in the U.S. is the fewest to date in at least the past 13 years. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, which posts tornado and severe thunderstorm watches in the U.S., has issued only 63 tornado watches through July 9, according to Sam Lillo, a meteorologist at the University of Oklahoma. Tornado watches are put in place when atmospheric conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in a particular area. Lillo also noted that since 2007, the latest date that the 63rd tornado watch was issued was May 16 in 2016. This year, however, the 63rd tornado watch was not posted until July 1..."
Graphic credit: "Preliminary tornadoes for 2005-15 and 2018 through June 27. Note the actual tornado count for each year is lower." (NOAA/Storm Prediction Center)

Weather Radar Coverage for Western North Dakota Questioned After Tornado. The Grand Forks Herald follows up on questions raised after the Watford City, ND tornado: "...The closest Doppler radars to Watford City are near Minot and Glasgow, Mont., or 140 to 180 miles away. At that distance, the radars are detecting storms forming at least 10,000 feet above ground, said John Paul Martin, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Bismarck. Emergency manager Karolin Jappe is strongly advocating for a Doppler radar closer to McKenzie County, which leads the state in oil production and is home to massive oil storage tanks and several natural gas processing plants. "We're the epicenter of the oilfield, and we have so much risk here it's scary," Jappe said..."

Photo credit: "John Paul Martin, center, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Bismarck, talks on Tuesday, July 10, to Lt. Matthew Watkins and Capt. Mike Ficken, left, both of the McKenzie County Sheriff's Department, and McKenzie County Emergency Managers Karolin Jappy and Jerry Samuelson after determining an FE 2 tornado touched down in the early morning hours in Watford City." Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune

Toasty Start to Summer. The Star Tribune puts the recent heat and humidity into perspective: It's the hottest May 1 through July 13 period on record, just to clarify. "In the Twin Cities metro area, the first six weeks of summer have been the hottest and muggiest ever, said Dan Luna, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Chanhassen. Overnight low temperatures since June 1 have averaged 62.1 degrees, the hottest nighttime temperatures ever. That’s two degrees higher than in 2012, which ranked second. Meanwhile, the average high temperature this summer in the Twin Cities is 80.7 degrees, the third-highest average for a summer in the metro area. Adding the day and night temperatures yields an overall average temperature of 71.4 degrees — again, the highest average ever for the first half of summer..."

6th Hottest Since June 1. National Weather Service modern-day records go back to 1872.

70% Probability of an El Nino by Winter. So says NOAA CPC; here's an excerpt of a recent post: "The chance that El Niño conditions will be in place across the tropical Pacific by the fall is about 65%, and close to 70% by the winter, continuing the El Niño Watch from last month. Here in the U.S., with sultry weather from coast to coast, it’s hard to think about winter right now…but that’s our job! After a trip through the tropical Pacific, we’ll get into what El Niño could mean for global weather and climate this winter. The tropical Pacific is still well within neutral limits. The temperature of the ocean surface in the Niño3.4 region has edged above average, with June 2018 coming in about 0.11 degrees Celsius above the long-term average, based on our best-quality data set..."

Image credit: "Monthly sea surface temperature in the Niño 3.4 region of the tropical Pacific for 2018 (purple line) and all other years since 1950 that started from La Niña conditions. In all but one of those years, a positive temperature anomaly by this point in the summer foreshadowed El Niño by winter." graph based on ERSSTv5 temperature data.

Animation credit: "Departure from average of the surface and subsurface tropical Pacific sea temperature averaged over 5-day periods starting in early June 2018. The vertical axis is depth below the surface (meters) and the horizontal axis is longitude, from the western to eastern tropical Pacific. This cross-section is right along the equator." figure from CPC data.

FEMA's Deadly Mistakes in Puerto Rico: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency was sorely unprepared to handle Hurricane Maria and the subsequent crisis in Puerto Rico , the agency admitted in an internal performance assessment memo released last week. FEMA's after-action report details how the agency's warehouse on the island was nearly empty due to relief efforts from Hurricane Irma when Maria made landfall last September, with no cots or tarps and little food and water. The report finds that the agency was severely understaffed and relied on "underqualified" staffers, and that leadership lacked key information on the island's infrastructure both before and after the storm. The report advises that communities and families in remote areas must prepare independently of the agency for future weather disasters." (New York Times $, NPR, ABC, Frontline, Huffington Post. Commentary: New York Times editorial $)

September 24, 2017 file image of Hurricane Maria: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Are Record Temperatures in the U.S. Increasingly Common? Record cold is less common in recent decades - we just aren't seeing the volume of bitter, arctic air we experienced as recently as the 70s and early 80s. The warming signal is more pronounced at night, according to Brian Brettschneider at Forbes, who has a comprehensive look at recent trends: "...Low minimum temperatures: No perceptible trend in records for low minimum temperatures are noted until the 1990s. Since then, the number of record low minimum temperatures assigned to the most recent years is less than half of the pre-1990s years. This is a dramatic reduction..."

Stanford Study Reveals the Pulse of the Polar Vortex- and a Key to Mapping Future Storms. Here's an excerpt of a press release from Stanford: "...Her analysis could help explain the surface weather impacts of an event that occurred in early 2018, when the vortex weakened so much that it ripped in two – a phenomenon that scientists know can blast up to two months of extreme weather into western Europe. Until now, understanding of these interactions has been based on observations and statistical modeling rather than knowledge of their physical foundation. These modes could be key to predicting the long-term effects of certain environmental changes on Earth’s surface. While air is thought to flow relatively independently within the troposphere and stratosphere in normal winters, depleted ozone, high levels of greenhouse gases, ocean warming, reduced snow cover, and other disturbances can rattle this independence, affecting both the vortex and jet stream in complex ways..."

Image credit: "Changes in wind speed and direction that start in the troposphere close to the equator quickly propagate up toward the stratosphere and poles." (Image credit: Aditi Sheshadri).

Scientists Peer Into Heart of Hurricanes to Improve Intensity Forecast. Predicting track is still significantly more accurate than intensity at landfall. Here's an excerpt from Reuters: "...Measuring a hurricane’s intensity quickly and formulating predictions on its changes is key to giving people on the ground time to prepare as the Atlantic hurricane season peaks this year after a devastating 2017 season. Maria, one in a series of devastating hurricanes last year, killed an estimated 4,465 people, knocked out the electric grid and caused $90 billion in damage in Puerto Rico. The National Hurricane Center said in a report last year that it failed to adequately predict the rapid intensification of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 to a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph (270 kph). The storm carved a destructive path in the Caribbean, killing more than 1,000 people in Haiti, according to data gathered by Reuters..."

Rising Seas Could Cause Problems for Internet Infrastructure. No, not the internet! Here's an excerpt from a story at NPR: "The dense network of cables that make up the Internet is likely to be inundated with saltwater as sea levels rise, a new analysis suggests, putting thousands of miles of critical infrastructure along U.S. coastlines underwater in the next 15 years. "It is actually the wires and the hardware that make the Internet run," explains Ramakrishnan Durairajan, a computer scientist at the University of Oregon and an author of the research. The analysis estimates under the most severe model for sea level rise that more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable along U.S. coastlines will be underwater by the early 2030s. The Internet is particularly susceptible to flooding because data travels through underground cables buried along roadways and through tunnels..."

Map credit: "The most severe NOAA model of sea level rise shows areas that are projected to be underwater in New York (left) and Miami by 2033 in blue. Green lines represent fiber cables that deliver Internet." Paul Barford/UW-Madison.

Cost to Generate Wind Power Fell by One-Third in 6 Years. Houston Chronicle has details: "The cost of wind-generated power declined by one-third between 2010 and 2016, thanks to improving technology, better manufacturing capability and concentrating projects in regions with lower installation costs, the Energy Department reported. The capacity-weighted average cost in inflation-adjusted dollars for wind generation was $1,587 per kilowatt in 2016 compared to $2,361 per kilowatt six years earlier..."

Study: New England's Red Spruce Trees Are Recovering, Thanks to Pollution Laws. WBUR News has the story; here's a clip: "...Gene Likens first documented acid rain in the 1960s at the Hubbard Brook experimental forest in New Hampshire. Now in his 80s, Likens says the rain, snow and mist is 80 percent less acidic at that forest than at its highest levels 50 years ago. He says those early studies provided the groundwork for the 1990 Clean Air Act. "And that’s what science does," Likens says. "We ask questions and look for answers to those questions and then try to communicate that information to decision makers in hopes that actions can be taken." While the red spruce recovery is good news, other species like sugar maples growing on calcium poor sites are still threatened..."

Photo credit: "Scientist Alexandra Kosiba shows a core sample from a red spruce that shows strong growth over the last decade." (John Dillon/VPR)

Do Longer Lives Mean That One Lifelong Marriage Isn't Enough? Quartz poses the question; here's a story excerpt: "Older people in the US are getting divorced more than they ever have before, with the rate of divorce among those 50 or older roughly doubling in the past 30 years. ‘ The unprecedented rise in so-called “gray divorces” presents a fascinating question about the state of marriage in the US. Is this just a blip caused by the Baby Boomer generation, a group of people that has married and divorced more than any other? Or is this the beginning of a fundamental shift in the way Americans see marriage, in an era when people can expect longer lives filled with more transitions between careers, homes, jobs, skills—and possibly relationships too?..."

Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You - And It Could Raises Your Rates. As always, be careful about what you disclose about yourself online. Which rings especially true after reading this story at ProPublica: "To an outsider, the fancy booths at last month’s health insurance industry gathering in San Diego aren’t very compelling. A handful of companies pitching “lifestyle” data and salespeople touting jargony phrases like “social determinants of health.” But dig deeper and the implications of what they’re selling might give many patients pause: A future in which everything you do — the things you buy, the food you eat, the time you spend watching TV — may help determine how much you pay for health insurance. With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans, including, odds are, many readers of this story..."

Image credit: Justin Volz, special to ProPublica.

Major League Baseball Fans Turning Gray While Millenials Tuning Out. Part 2 in a series at Star Tribune: "...Baseball still is the second-most-popular sport behind the NFL when taking those metrics into account, but it is losing ground with younger fans compared to older age groups. The NBA is gaining ground on baseball, especially in the youngest demographics. Where baseball sees glimmers of hope is in its participation numbers. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, the number of people playing baseball has increased the past three years, with more than 14.7 million people reporting that they played baseball at least one time during 2016. This comes even as both Little League and Babe Ruth baseball reported small decreases in participation in recent years..."

Photo credit: Jay St. Pierre •

How the Diderot Effect Explains Why You Buy Things You Don't Need. Self-medication through consumption? Imagine that. Here's an excerpt of an explanation at Big Think: "...In the case of Diderot himself, it leads to a vicious cycle of consumption that nearly bankrupted him. While this was an extreme case, made worse no doubt by being made suddenly well off after a lifetime of limited means, the rest of us still need to be wary of where one out of place purchase can lead. At the very least, the Diderot Effect can make us desire things we don’t need to provide a more seamless association between the things we have. As anybody who has bought a new shirt only to need new shoes, pants, and ties to match knows, this spending can get out of hand in a hurry. How can I avoid being taken in? As with many vicious cycles, the best thing to do is not start the cycle at all..."

Image credit: "Dennis Diderot as he probably looked during his brief stint in the middle class."

The World's Best Once-In-A-Lifetime Journeys. I love to travel and just added a few destinations to my bucket list. Check it out at "Welcome to the most definitive list of the World’s Best Journeys – a truly inspiring collection of the top 50 transformative trips every traveller must experience in their lifetime. This inspiring resource is an unparalleled guide to diverse and dynamic adventures with exhilarating activities in the most stunning, mystical, and culturally-rich lands on the planet. The World’s Best Journeys list for 2018 was created by a collaboration between Flight Network and 500+ of the world’s top travel journalists, agencies, bloggers, and editors – the ultimate insiders of international travel. This extensive collaboration produced the most thoughtful and detailed list of astonishing journeys – a list that will captivate and inspire travellers to embark on life changing adventures now, and for years to come..."

Massive 11-Ton Iceberg Towers Over Little Village in Greenland. Feeling a little better about ice on Minnesota lakes after checking this out on Yahoo!: "A colossal 11-million ton iceberg is towering over a tiny Greenland village, captured in one of the most jaw-dropping photos you'll see this week. Taken by Karl Petersen on Friday, the photograph shows an enormous 650-feet-wide iceberg sitting dangerously close to the village of Innarsuit, an island settlement in the Avannaata municipality in northwestern Greenland. Why is this a threat? According to Greenland national newspaper Sermitsiaq, some residents of the 169-population village have evacuated for fear of a tsunami, if parts of the iceberg start breaking off this close to the village's shore, causing large waves..."

WEDNESDAY: Warm sunshine, quite pleasant. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 83

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Rain overspreads the state. Low: 68

THURSDAY: Rain likely, few T-storms possible. Winds: S 10-15. High: 74

FRIDAY: Lingering showers, risk of thunder. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 64. High: 78

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, drop in humidity. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

SUNDAY: Warm sunshine, looks pretty good. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 83

MONDAY: Early thunder, then clearing, breezy. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 68. High: 80

TUESDAY: Some cool sun, PM showers possible. Winds: NW 15-30. Wake-up: 61. High: 74

Climate Stories....

Climate Change is Making It Harder For Us to Conceive. Say what? The University of California has an unlikely story: "According to research by UCLA environmental economist Alan Barreca, hot weather reduces chances of getting pregnant — and the problem is expected to get worse because of global warming. After noticing that August and September — nine months after the coldest part of the year — are two of the busiest months for births in the U.S., Barreca, a member of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, pored through 80 years of U.S. birth data, looking for trends. Reported in the journal Demography, the study found that high temperatures have a significant negative effect on fertility and birth rates, and the research projects that as climate change drives temperatures up and increases the number and severity of heat waves, getting pregnant may become harder than ever..."

Photo credit: "The study found that an August heat wave tends to result in significantly fewer births the following May, nine months later."

Sea Level Rise Could Force Us All Offline: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "Sea level rise could soon threaten key components of the network of cables that form the backbone of the Internet, according to new research. An analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Oregon and University of Wisconsin-Madison predicts that more than 4,000 mile of critical electric cable could be under water within the next 15 years, with the networks of large cities like New York, Miami and Seattle most at risk. "Most of the damage that's going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later," coauthor Paul Barford told The Independent. "That surprised us. The expectation was that we'd have 50 years to plan for it. We don't have 50 years." (NPR, National Geographic, The IndependentNewsweek)

Cloudy With a Chance of Climate Change? TV Meteorologists Take On the Big Stuff. A shout-out to my dear friend Mike Nelson in Denver (one of many on-air heroes). He's featured in a story at Wyoming Public Radio: "...Physics doesn’t care about the politics.” Still, he knows there is a political war raging over the words “climate change” and what they represent.  So it’s a fine line.  One that Nelson said he has no trouble walking.  But he said his 40 years in the business gives him some cover. But, Nelson acknowledged, “if you're a 30-year-old weathercaster with a couple little kids and you've been in the market for two years, you're like jeez, I better back off. I got to keep my job.” Justin Roth, a 28-year-old-TV-meteorologist at a local station in Casper, Wyoming, said it is a fine line he has to walk, especially for someone so new in his field..."

Photo credit: "Denver meteorologist, Mike Nelson, preparing his weathercast with the help of a graph from Climate Central." Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC.

The Flash Drought Brought Misery, But Did It Change Minds on Climate Change? The recent extremes in North Dakota are highlighted in a story at InsideClimate News: "...I've seen the data that indicates, yes, we are warming, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of agreement," he added. "Some say that it's the result of man's activity and others say it's just a natural occurrence." I've heard this sentiment across Divide County and across our divided country. The confusion is not surprising, given concerted efforts to make climate science cloudy to the public. What is perhaps surprising is to hear the "some-say" argument from cooperative extension agents like Keith, who are trained in agricultural science to understand how climate affects farming and ranching productivity and to be the experts within their communities..."

Photo credit: "North Dakota is warming faster than many other regions. Temperatures here run about 3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th Century's average." Credit: Meera Subramanian.

Soon Every Weather Event Could Become a State of Emergency. Hyperbole? Yes, but there is now little question that a warmer, wetter climate is amping up (many) storms, increasing rainfall totals. Here's an excerpt from The Outline: "In Japan, what started as a downpour on June 28 refused to relent, dug in its heels, and kept dumping rain on southern Japan for more than two weeks, and at least 176 people lost their lives. A blanket of water 847 million cubic feet in scale flooded the region, destroying almost 2,000 homes. The worst-hit regions were struck with about 70 inches of rain—almost six feet. Then, on July 9, just as the rain stopped, a barrage of simultaneous landslides devastated thousands of square miles in Western Japan, causing over 100 of the 176 deaths.The flooding in Japan is a tragic example of what happens when climate change raises the threat of dangerous but (at least at the time of onset) sub-emergency weather, like torrential rain, in regions that aren’t used to experiencing comparable events like typhoons or hurricanes..."

Over a Billion People Struggle to Stay Cool as Earth Warms. Reuters explains what's at stake: "More electricity demand for fridges, fans and other appliances will add to man-made climate change unless power generators shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energies, according to the report by the non-profit Sustainable Energy for All group. About 1.1 billion people in Asia, Africa and Latin America - 470 million in rural areas and 630 million slum dwellers in cities - were at risk among the world’s 7.6 billion people, it said. “Cooling becomes more and more important” with climate change, Rachel Kyte, head of the group and special representative for the U.N. Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, told Reuters..."

Map credit: Eco Experts.

The Global Corn Crop is Vulnerable to Climate Change. PRI connects the dots with warming and yields: "Corn, also known as maize, is the world’s most-produced food crop. But it could be headed for trouble as the Earth warms. A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America finds that climate change will not only increase the risk of food shocks from world corn production but that these crop failures could occur simultaneously. “Increased warming leads to global crop failures because plants are not adapted to really high temperatures,” explains Michelle Tigchelaar, a research associate at the University of Washington. "Most of our crops are really well-adapted for our current climate. There is an optimum temperature at which they grow and beyond that their yields decline. Extreme heat has really negative impacts on … the flowering of crops and also increases their water usage...”

File image: Star Tribune.

Climate Change is Behind the Global Heat Wave. Why Won't Media Say It? It's worth pointing out that the heat would have happened anyway, but warmer background temperatures are making some of these heat waves longer and stronger. Here's a clip from a post at the Los Angeles Times: "...But to get the larger story about extreme weather events, you have to read between the headlines. There is no sound justification for this. Not anymore. Scientists have been churning out evidence of human-caused climate change for more than a century. Some are figuring out exactly how much to blame global warming for any given weather event. They're getting really good at it. We can now link many recent disasters and weather events to climate change. We know, for instance, that more than three-quarters of moderate heat waves are connected to warming. We also know that, were it not for climate change, fires in the West would have burned half as much land since the 1980s. Scientists have been documenting the increase in extreme rain events in Japan since the early 1990s. The science is clear. Journalists need to start using it..."

Major Broadcast TV Networks Mentioned Climate Change Just Once During 2 Weeks of Heat Wave Coverage. Here's a snippet from Media Matters: "...Media Matters analyzed morning and nightly news coverage of the heat wave on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as on PBS NewsHour, over a 14-day period from June 27 through July 10, covering the entire duration of the heat wave. Neither ABC nor NBC mentioned that climate change influences heat waves. There were 32 segments or weathercasts on ABC and 59 segments or weathercasts on NBC that discussed the heat wave. None of them mentioned the link between climate change and extremely high temperatures. CBS aired one segment that discussed the connection between climate change and high heat. Out of 36 CBS segments that mentioned the heat wave, just one mentioned climate change..."

Airlines Prepare for Flying in Hotter Temperatures as Climate Change Brings More Extreme Heat. CNBC has the story: "It's less than a month into the summer and triple-digit temperatures have already shattered records in many cities across the country, like around Los Angeles area where it hit 114 degrees in Burbank and 120 degrees in Chino on July 6....The extreme heat that has come with climate change is prompting airplane manufacturers to test their fleets for increasingly hotter temperatures. While travelers are used to flight cancellations in blizzards, the unpredictable storms and extreme heat of warmer months present airlines — and passengers — with some of the most challenging conditions of the year. The gradual warming of the earth that has come with climate change is causing more frequent and more severe swings in weather patterns across the globe. That means more days of extreme heat that airlines didn't have to worry about before..."

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Soggiest Day of the Week - Random Memories of July 18, 1986 "KARE-11" Tornado