Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Most River Levels Receding Now - Downpour Risk Returns This Weekend

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: June 26, 2014 - 12:09 AM


Meteorologists are risk-adverse; we deal in statistics, percentages and probabilities. We don't like to talk about errors, goofs or blunders. It's impolite. Instead we fixate on "busted forecasts" and try to learn from our (very public) mistakes.

When I travel east I'm still reminded of a tragically bone-headed 4th of July forecast...in 1976. I predicted drizzle. It POURED for 8 hours. Some people never forgot.

The next 1-2 weeks is, for many, the highlight of summer. Friends & family gathered at the lake - dinners, picnics and outdoor wish lists, all at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Yes, we're nervous, and for good reason.

2014: wettest year, to date - and probably the wettest June since 1871 at the rate we're going, with more T-storms in the forecast Friday into Sunday, as yet another sloppy front runs out of gas directly overhead. I don't think we'll see a rerun of last Thursday's tropical monsoon, but some 1-2 inch amounts are possible with these T-storms. Some additional flooding is possible.

Cooler, drier, Canadian air presses south next week with 70s by midweek. ECMWF data hints at 80F on the 4th with some sun. What can go wrong?

Light a candle. Hope for the best.


.35" predicted for MSP by Monday (00z NAM model).

2.1" rain predicted by Monday (12z ECMWF).

1.73" rain predicted next 16 days (18z GFS model).


River Flooding Update. The Mississippi River in St. Paul should crest today, all other rivers and streams in the metro area have crested with water levels falling over time. More torrential rains over the weekend could cause streams and rivers to rise again next week, but the extent of any additional rises will depend on rainfall amounts this upcoming weekend. An interactive map from NOAA is here.


Not What The Weather Doctor Ordered. Stating the obvious: Minnesota and the Upper Midwest doesn't need more torrential rains, coming off record June rains and the wettest year, to date, for much of the Upper Mississippi Valley. But NOAA guidance is showing some 1-2" amounts likely, with a significant risk of (isolated) 3-4" amounts from repeated outbreaks of T-storms Friday into Sunday.


Another Slow-Motion Frontal Passage. Everything usually slows down during the summer months; storms and frontal boundaries tend to limp across the Lower 48 at 10-15 mph as main steering winds lift north into Canada. But this year we're seeing a perpetual holding pattern: a heat-pump high accelerating record heat and drought for California and much of the southwestern USA, while east of the Rockies a series of sloppy fronts meander east, fueled by a persistent tropical flow from the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA's NAM model (Future Radar) shows heavy showers and T-storms from Texas to Minnesota, a bubble of Canadian high pressure treating New England to cool, dry weather.


Flash Flood Guidance. The map above from NOAA shows the amount of rain necessary over a 3-hour period to reinitiate flash flooding: as little as 1" for Ramsey county, 1.4" for Hennepin county - but less than 2" for most of southern Minnesota where soils are soaked from recent rains. Some of the storms Friday into Sunday may produce storms capable of 2-3" of rain over a short period of time, complicating and extending our flood scenario into early next week.


Tropical, Thundery Weekend - Hints of September Next Week. Dew points approach 70F over the weekend as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico continues to fuel a slow-moving frontal boundary; scattered T-storms (some packing more downpours) from Friday into at least Sunday. We dry out Monday and a stronger push of Canadian air treats us to dew points in the 40s and low 50s by the middle of next week, roughly half as much water in the air by Tuesday and Wednesday. Right now long-range guidance hints at mid to upper 70s and relatively comfortable humidity levels for the 4th of July. Fingers crossed.



Lightning Science: 5 Ways Lightning Strikes People. This is Lightning Safety Awareness Week in the USA, and I found this resource from NOAA timely, considering that lightning-related injury and death peaks in June and July, nationwide. Here's an excerpt: "...When lightning strikes a tree or other object, much of the energy travels outward from the strike in and along the ground surface. This is known as the ground current. Anyone outside near a lightning strike is potentially a victim of ground current. In addition, ground current can travels in garage floors with conductive materials. Because the ground current affects a much larger area than the other causes of lightning casualties, the ground current causes the most lightning deaths and injuries. Ground current also kills many farm animals. Typically, the lightning enters the body at the contact point closest to the lightning strike, travels through the cardiovascular and/or nervous systems, and exits the body at the contact point farthest from the lightning. The greater the distance between contact points, the greater the potential for death or serious injury. Because large farm animals have a relatively large body-span, ground current from a nearby lightning strike is often fatal to livestock..."


Temperature Highest On Record For May. Here's a clip from an update at The Boston Globe: "Driven by exceptionally warm ocean waters, Earth smashed a record for heat in May and is expected to keep on breaking high temperature marks, experts say. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday said May’s average temperature on Earth of 59.93 degrees beat the record set four years ago. In April, the globe tied the 2010 record for that month. Records go back to 1880..." (Map: NOAA NCDC).

* May was the 351st month in a row of global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.

* More details on a toasty May around the world at Quartz.



Schools Need Better Tornado Protection. No kidding. And putting kids in hallways may not be the safest option, it turns out. Here's an excerpt of a timely post at LiveScience: "...Despite this danger, building codes are not designed to ensure that schools withstand the kinds of winds even the most modest tornado can muster. The standard is to build schools to resist 90-mph (145 km/h), straight-line winds. The weakest EF1 tornadoes can sustain gusts of up to 110 mph (177 km/h), and their rotational winds put more pressure on buildings than a straight-line wind of the same speed, Iowa State University engineer Partha Sarkar told Live Science in 2013. "The buildings are simply not designed to withstand that level of wind," Sarkar said..."
 
Photo credit above: Lubbock National Weather Service. "A May 2006 tornado damaged the gym of Childress High School in Texas."

History of Tornado Forecasting. Did you know that the word "tornado" was banned for the longest time, for fear of inciting mass public panic? That's one of many interesting nuggets from this worthwhile post from NOAA; here's an excerpt: "...In 1882, after nearly 300 years of numerous observations and stories of whirlwinds, cyclones, and tornadoes, U.S. Army Signal Corps Sergeant John P. Finley was placed in charge of the investigation of tornadoes and the development of forecasting methods. During a tornado outbreak that occurred on February 19, 1884, Finley established 15 rules for early tornado forecasting. In 1888, Finley published these rules, which identified signs that the formation of a tornado was likely. Unfortunately, as Finley was developing his techniques, the tornado prediction program encountered a huge road block. The word "tornado" was banned from official forecasts by the U.S. Army Signal Corps due to limitations with the observing network and concerns over causing mass panic among the general public..."

* more detail on the history of tornado forecasting and the banning of the word "tornado" from CNN.


Gigantic Sprites over the USA. Spaceweather.com has an interesting story and video highlighting a recent spate of "sprites", high-altitude lightning strikes that go straight up, observed over Oklahoma. Here's a clip: "...Here is one of the largest' 'jellyfish' sprites I have captured in the last four years." The cluster shot up from western Oklahoma on June 23, so large that it was visible from Ashcraft's observatory in New Mexico 289 miles away. "According to my measurements, it was 40 miles tall and 46 miles wide. This sprite would dwarf Mt. Everest!" he exclaims..."


ESA Sets Its Sights On Harpooning Space Debris. This article at Gizmag caught my eye - here's an excerpt: "In 2021, as part of its Clean Space Initiative, ESA plans to launch the e.DeOrbit mission. The aim of this mission is to clean up the important polar orbits between altitudes of 800 to 1,000 km (500 to 625 mil) that face the prospect of becoming unusable due to the increasing buildup of space debris. The ESA has now announced plans to examine the potential for the mission to use space harpoons to capture large items, such as derelict satellites and the upper stages of rockets..."


5 Ways Weather Is Pivotal In A Baseball Game. All other things being equal, batters stand a better chance of hitting a home run on a hot, muggy day with high dew points, when air density is lower and the ball can travel farther. AccuWeather has an interesting story - here's the intro: "The impact of weather on a baseball game may not always be immediately recognizable as a heavy storm causing a rain-out, but it can be profound even on a bright, sunny day. "The weather can impact every aspect of the game," said Mike Collins, head baseball coach at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Baseball is a sport that is played throughout multiple seasons, so players must continuously adapt throughout the year. Below are five ways weather can affect the outcome of a game..."


North Korea Calls Seth Rogan - James Franco Film an "Act of War". Just when you thought things couldn't get any crazier in the Hermit Kingdom along comes this headline from Huffington Post; here's a clip: "...Could Seth Rogen and James Franco trigger a conflict with North Korea? That's what Pyongyang says, calling the duo's upcoming film an "act of war." In "The Interview," starring Franco as a TV host and Rogen as his producer, the two are sent to North Korea to assassinate supreme leader Kim Jong Un. "The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays the attack on our top leadership... is a most wanton act of terror and act of war, and is absolutely intolerable," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement cited by AFP. He also threatened a "resolute and merciless response" if the film is not banned by the U.S. government..."


Assorted Outrageous Superstar Tour Demands. You may not quite believe what various stars and would-be divas demand when they go on tour. Here's an excerpt of some of their demands at Huffington Post, including some of the requests from musical artist Drake:

  • 4 dozen natural scented incense sticks

  • E-Z Wider rolling papers

  • One bottle of Pinot Grigio, one case of Heineken, one bottle of Jack Daniel’s, one bottle of Patron Silver tequila, one bottle of Grey Goose, and one bottle of Hennessy or Courvoisier..."


72 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

82 F. average high on June 25.

84 F. high on June 25, 2013.


TODAY: More clouds than sun, a bit milder.  Winds: SE 10. High: 79

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy, risk of a T-storm. Low: 66

FRIDAY: Scattered T-storms, few downpours - heaviest rains north of MSP. High: 84

SATURDAY: Sticky with lot's of clouds, a few heavy T-storms. S 15. Wake-up: 70. High: 82

SUNDAY: A bit drier with more sun. Lingering T-storm risk. Wake-up: 72. High: 86

MONDAY: Warm sun, breezy - drying out. Wake-up: 70. High: 85

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, cool breeze. Dew point: 54. Wake-up: 63. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, comfortably cool. Wake-up: 59. High: 74


Climate Stories...

Climate Change Poses "Severe Health Risk" To Outdoor Workers. The number of hot, humid, potentially dangerous days is expected to rise, posing considerable additional risk to people who work outside on a routine basis. That's one of many findings in the "Risky Business" report, focused on potential economic impacts; here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "...The report, Risky Business, was released today at an event in New York. It outlines all the ways that climate change threatens the U.S. economy, including a county-level analysis. Among its many findings:

  • Over the next four decades, the U.S. could lose between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of coastal property to rising waters. By the turn of the next century, between $238 billion to $507 billion worth of property could be under water. The losses will be predominantly along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. 
  • By 2050, "the average American will likely see 27 to 50 days over 95°F each year..."

Photo credit above: "Construction workers in Little Rock during the 1998 heat wave." (Reuters)


Risky Business - Key Predictions for Midwest. Here is an excerpt of the recent, bipartisan study on future business and economic impacts of rising seas and increasing climate volatility in the Risky Business report: "...Armed with the right information, Midwest farmers can, and will, mitigate some of these impacts through double-and triple-cropping, seed modification, crop switching and other adaptive practices. In many cases, crop production will likely shift from the Midwest to the Upper Great Plains, Northwest, and Canada, helping to keep the U.S. and global food system well supplied. However, this shift could put individual Midwest farmers and farm communities at risk if production moves to cooler climates. The projected increase in Midwest surface air temperatures won’t just affect the health of the region’s crops; it will also put the region’s residents at risk. Over the past 40 years, the Midwest experienced only 2.7 days on average over 95°F. If we stay on our current climate path, the average Midwest resident will likely experience an additional 7 to 26 days above 95°F each year by mid-century, and 20 to 75 additional extreme-heat days—potentially more than 2 additional months per year of extreme heat—by the end of the century. On the other hand, the region will also experience fewer winter days with temperatures below freezing..."


Climate Change To Profoundly Alter Great Lakes Region, Summary Report Says. Here's an excerpt of a recent study, courtesy of eNews Park Forest: "The GLISA summary report, "Synthesis of the Third National Climate Assessment for the Great Lakes Region," states that:

Increased heat wave intensity and frequency, increased humidity, degraded air quality and changes in mosquito- and tick-borne disease patterns in the region will increase public health risks.

Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased in the region during the last century and are expected to continue. Those trends could lead to increased erosion, declining water quality and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health and infrastructure..."


"Risky Business" Report Aims To Frame Climate Change As Economic Issue. Following up on the New York Times, here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: "...The whole point was to have a bipartisan group who agreed on the nature of the problem, which is that climate change is a huge economic risk," said Mr. Paulson, who served under President George W. Bush. The study concludes that within the next 15 years, higher sea levels, storm surges and hurricanes could raise the annual price tag for coastal damage along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to $35 billion. Some Midwestern and Southern agricultural areas could see a decline in yields of more than 10% over the next five to 25 years due to increased drought and flooding, unless farmers adapt their crops, according to the study..."

* The Risky Business report, download and Executive Summary is here.

* Click here for the Risky Business Press Conference Live Stream.


The Losing Bet on Climate Change. Professional money manager and columnist Barry Ritholtz has an Op-Ed at Bloomberg View where he discusses something I've been talking about for some time: climate volatility, and how companies will soon be divulging climate volatility risk to their investors; here's an excerpt: "...Changes in weather are going to be disruptive for investors. Opportunities and risks will abound. Your choices will be to either take advantage of these opportunities for your clients or your own holdings or let them pass by because you have come to the scientifically unsupported conclusion that there is no such thing as global warming -- or maybe there is, but it's only modest, and besides, it's natural and caused by sunspots and not human activity, or whatever slice of agnotology your cognitive dissonance has foisted upon you. .."

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