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Paul Douglas on Weather

What August? Details on EPA Clean Power Plan

"...General Mills is committed to doing our part to tackle climate change and we fully support the effective implentation of the Clean Power Plan", said Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills. "In particular, we applaud the efforts off our home state of Minnesota for the progress its energy officials are making in building a plan that will work cost-effectively for the families, farmers, municipalities and the business community alike..."


Generation Clean

Today's official launch of the Clean Power Plan represents the biggest action the USA (or any nation) has ever undertaken; the rough emissions equivalent of taking 150 million cars off the road. It goes beyond addressing climate change; it goes to the health of our children today.

"One in four kids has asthma, autism, ADHD or allergies - linked to how we use fossil fuels and petrochemicals" said Reverend Mitch Hescox, CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network. Full disclosure: I'm on their Board of Directors.

A record 365 companies and investor groups have announced support for the EPA's Clean Power Plan, including General Mills and Aveda. They believe we can find clean, carbon-free ways to power up the economy and keep people working.

There are viable, cost-effective alternatives to "drill baby drill". We didn't leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones. We exited the Stone Age because we found a better way forward.

Welcome to September. A remarkably persistent northwest wind flow aloft ushers in a taste of mid-September this week with a streak of 70s. The heatwave gripping much of America will remain well south of Minnesota.

We may see a little smoke from western wildfires but Heat Index won't get much traction here for at least the next 2 weeks.


Non-Polluting Growth. Ceres has more on the Clean Power Plan; here's an excerpt: "In an unprecedented show of business support for tackling climate change, 365 companies and investors sent letters to more than two-dozen governors across the United States voicing support for the EPA Clean Power Plan for existing power plants and encouraging the states’ “timely finalization” of state implementation plans to meet the new standards..."


Expert Analysis Finds That The Clean Power Plan Is Not A Threat To Midwestern Power Grid Reliability. Here is the intro to a J. Drake Hamilton analysis at Fresh Energy: "Working toward an electricity system that aggressively lowers carbon pollution requires a well-operated regional power grid for success. Today’s interconnected electric power grid is reliable, affordable, and increasingly carries clean electricity. Tomorrow’s integrated electric grid must be cleaner still, as well as reliable and affordable. The emerging modern, efficient power grid must be designed and operated to reduce environmental impacts, including allowing Minnesota and its neighbors to comply with the nation’s first (and long overdue) limits on carbon pollution from our existing coal-burning power plants; these standards, to be finalized this summer, are known as the Clean Power Plan..."


Obama Unveils Major Climate Change Proposal Today. Here's an excerpt of a summary at CNN.com: "...The plan will call for a reduction power-sector carbon pollution of 32% from 2005 levels in 2030 -- a 9% increase over the 2014 draft proposal, the official said. It will also call for a more aggressive transition to renewable energy. "Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change," Obama said in the video. "Until now, there have been no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution plants dump in the air..."


The Dangers of Mercury Poisoning. Even if you don't care one whiff about man-made climate change, weather and water volatility or the implications for your kids and grandkids, you should be aware of the side effects of fossil-fuel generated power; specifically mercury poisoning downwind of these plants. Taller stacks have turned this from a local into a regional issue and scrubbers can't catch all the carcinogenic pollutants released. There's only so much you can do to clean up inherently dirty fossil fuels. Here's an excerpt from EEN, The Evangelical Environmental Network that caught my eye: "Mercury emitted from power plants drops from air to earth and presently contaminates over 6 million acres of freshwater lakes, 46,000 miles of streams, and 225,000 wetland acres across the U.S. Every state has a fish consumption advisory. Mercury contaminated fish are often eaten by pregnant women. Mercury and other heavy metal toxins pass across the mother’s placenta and enter the bloodstream of her unborn child. A protective shield around the developing child’s brain is not fully formed until the first year of life. Mercury easily crosses into the developing child’s brain causing brain damage, developmental disabilities, neurological disorders, lowered intelligence, and learning difficulties..."


Persistent Kink in the Jet Stream. The "ridiculously resilient ridge" out west is, in turn, treating the north central USA, Great Lakes and New England to more of a Canadian breeze with frequent outbreaks of cooler, drier, more comfortable air over the northern tier of the USA (east of the Rockies). This trend should continue into the first half of August. The map above shows 250 mb winds today, as predicted by the GFS, courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer.


Comfortable and (Relatively) Dry Week Shaping Up. NOAA's 84-hour NAM guidance shows the heaviest showers and T-storms staying south and west of Minnesota into Thursday morning. The best chance of some rain may come Thursday PM into Friday, with partial clearing in time for next weekend. Stay tuned.


7-Day Rainfall Potential. The best chance of heavy rain looking out the next week or so comes from Kansas City and St. Louis across the Ohio Valley into southern New England, where some 2-4" amounts are possible. More heavy rain is likely from Tampa to the Outer Banks, although the risk of tropical formation in the next 7-10 days is low.


What August? Are you sure it's not September 3 - did I sleep through the entire month of August? Hate it when that happens. Expect a very comfortable week with winds easing up a bit by Tuesday; the best chance of showers and a few T-showers late Thursday into Friday as surface winds peak. More showers may slosh into town late Sunday - right now Saturday appears to be the nicer outdoor day of the weekend.


Faint Whiffs of Warmth. GFS guidance is hinting at a few blips of 90-degree heat by mid-August, but there's little doubt the core of heat and beastly humidity will stay to our south and west, a persistent heat dome over the southern 2/3rds of America, with the worst heat out west where more records may fall. 500 mb wind forecast (GFS) valid the evening of August 16 courtesy of GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Iran City Hits Suffocating Heat Index of 165 Degrees, Near World Record. Pretty typical.....for the surface of Venus. Meteorologist Jason Samenow has the amazing details at Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt: "...In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) today factoring in the humidity. Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported. To achieve today’s astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius)..."

Graphic credit above: "Chart showing temperature, dew point in index in Bandar Mahshahr over last 36 hours, using National Weather Service heat index value calculations." (Brian McNoldy)


Dry Days Bring A Ferocious Start To The Fire Season. Here are a couple of excerpts from a story at The New York Times: "...It is all part of an extensive nationwide scorching. About 63,312 wildfires destroyed 3.6 billion acres of land across the country last year, at a cost of $1.52 billion to fight the fires. Early projections have placed this year’s cost even higher, at up to $2.1 billion, well beyond the $1.5 billion set aside by the federal Interior and Agriculture Departments, which administer more than 600 million acres of public lands. The Obama administration has asked Congress to place wildfires in the same category as hurricanes and floods, with a dedicated disaster fund to pay for their suppression..."

Photo credit above: "Firefighters walk under smoke from fires along Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, Calif., Friday, July 31, 2015. A series of wildfires were intensified by dry vegetation, triple-digit temperatures and gusting winds." (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


The Adblocking Revolution is Months Away - With Consequences for Advertisers, Publishers and Google? iOS9 will allow you to block ads on Safari, on mobile and desktop. What will that mean for web sites that depend on advertising? Here's a snippet of an interesting read at The Overspill: "...Into this comes Apple, which guards the user experience on the iOS platform, its biggest moneymaker, very jealously. Apple’s executives and staff aren’t blind to the things that are going on; they use their phones, and they get the same experiences. User experience is what Apple puts above pretty much everything else, and they’ve decided that they don’t like it the experience available through the ad-supported web, and so they’re going to do something about it. Hence content blockers for Safari (and all web views) on iOS 9, which wasn’t announced onstage at WWDC but was one of those “Whoa!” moments on browsing through the Settings in the first iOS 9 beta..."


Major Flaw In Android Phones Would Let Hackers In With Just a Text. Here's an excerpt from a story at NPR: "Android is the most popular mobile operating system on Earth: About 80 percent of smartphones run on it. And, according to mobile security experts at the firm Zimperium, there's a gaping hole in the software — one that would let hackers break into someone's phone and take over, just by knowing the phone's number. In this attack, the target would not need to goof up — open an attachment or download a file that's corrupt..."


84 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

83 F. average high on August 2.

87 F. high on August 2, 2014.

August 3, 1896: Violent hailstorm destroys two thirds of the crops in Swift County.


TODAY: Blue sky and a stiff wind. Winds: NW 10-20+ High: 79

MONDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortably cool. Low: 59

TUESDAY: Sunny, less wind. Dew point: 52. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Fading sun, still comfortable. Wake-up: 58. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Unsettled, passing T-shower possible. Wake-up: 60. High: 76

FRIDAY: Heavy showers & T-storms around. Wake-up: 59. High: 75

SATURDAY: More sun, a fine lukewarm day. Wake-up: 60. High: 80

SUNDAY: Sunny start, PM T-storm risk. Wake-up: 62. High: 81


Climate Stories....

Obama To Unveil Tougher Climate Plan With His Legacy in Mind. He's also considering future generations of unborn and the world they'll inherit. Here's the intro to a New York Times article: " In the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, President Obama will unveil on Monday a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry. The rules are the final, tougher versions of proposed regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2012 and 2014. If they withstand the expected legal challenges, the regulations will set in motion sweeping policy changes that could shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants, freeze construction of new coal plants and create a boom in the production of wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources..."

* A Facebook video from President Obama and the White House explaining the need for the Clean Power Plan is here.


Does Global Warming Actually Increase Antarctic Sea Ice? Here's an excerpt from a good explanation at Discovery News: "...Here’s that scenario in simpler terms. While sea ice has been increasing, we know from analyzing satellite data that the ice covering the land mass of Antarctica has been melting rapidly. Hansen and colleagues think that as those ice shelves disintegrate, a lot of cold freshwater is draining into the Southern Ocean. That’s creating a cold surface layer that is causing sea ice to form. Underneath that, though, the salty, denser subsurface waters are still warming..."

Hints of September Later This Week - 165F Heat Index in Iran Friday

"...Although there are no official records, 178 degrees (81 Celsius) is the highest known heat index ever attained. It was observed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003..." - from an article at Capital Weather Gang below, providing perspective for Friday's 165F heat index in Iran.


Ridiculous Heat

Everything is relative, especially weather. Residents of Atlanta laugh when we complain about a 95-degree heat index. We scoff when Arizonans complain about 30s. It's all a function of what you're accustomed to; what falls within the window of "typical weather".

Many of us have experienced "beastly-heat", where nothing you do can cool you down, where you perspire with zero physical exertion. I don't think any of us can fathom what a heat index of 165F is like. On Friday the city of Bandar Mahshahr, Iran, on the Persian Gulf, registered a temperature of 115F with a dew point of 90F.

Face-melting heat.

By the way the highest heat index ever recorded was in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on July 8, 2003. The temperature hit 108F with a dew point of 95F, making it feel like 178F! May I please be excused?

And here we sit - this week's weather map looks like something out of September with highs in the 70s and low humidity, all thanks to a persistent northwest wind flow aloft. A quick shower may pop today behind a puff of slightly cooler air.

By midweek wake-up temperatures dip into the 50s. Not exactly sweatshirt weather but Minnesota may just wind up largely dog-day-free this summer.


Iran City Hits Suffocating Heat Index of 165 Degrees, Near World Record. Pretty typical.....for the surface of Venus. Meteorologist Jason Samenow has the amazing details at Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt: "...In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) today factoring in the humidity. Although there are no official records of heat indices, this is second highest level we have ever seen reported. To achieve today’s astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius)..."

Graphic credit above: "Chart showing temperature, dew point in index in Bandar Mahshahr over last 36 hours, using National Weather Service heat index value calculations." (Brian McNoldy)


Tracking Temperature Extremes. Coolwx.com has some great information, including a running tally of the greatest extremes on the planet, in real time. 123.8F at Basrah, Iraq in the last 24 hours? Good grief.


Dry Days Bring A Ferocious Start To The Fire Season. Here are a couple of excerpts from a story at The New York Times: "...It is all part of an extensive nationwide scorching. About 63,312 wildfires destroyed 3.6 billion acres of land across the country last year, at a cost of $1.52 billion to fight the fires. Early projections have placed this year’s cost even higher, at up to $2.1 billion, well beyond the $1.5 billion set aside by the federal Interior and Agriculture Departments, which administer more than 600 million acres of public lands. The Obama administration has asked Congress to place wildfires in the same category as hurricanes and floods, with a dedicated disaster fund to pay for their suppression..."

Photo credit above: "Firefighters walk under smoke from fires along Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, Calif., Friday, July 31, 2015. A series of wildfires were intensified by dry vegetation, triple-digit temperatures and gusting winds." (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


Crazy-Warm Temperatures Over Southwest Oregon and Northwest California. Cliff Mass provides good perspective on the blazing heat gripping the Pacific Northwest; here's an excerpt: "How often do you see temperatures of over 100F at a coastal location, with cool ( roughly 50F) water close at hand?   Well today for one!  Let's head down to the southwest corner of Oregon, near Brookings.   This is a region often called the Banana Belt of Oregon for having "tropical" temperatures any month of the year. Here is a map showing you today's maximum temperatures (F) over SW Oregon and NW California. Over 100F AT THE COAST at Brookings and at Gold Beach, just to its north..." (Heat index forecast above: AerisWeather).


Winter Is Coming. O.K. I just finished Season 3 of Game of Thrones on HBO so I've got "winter" on my mind. Sorry. It's going to take me some time to get over the "red wedding". Good Lord. The graph above shows various models, all in fairly good alignment showing a cooling trend this week with a streak of highs in the 70s. Low to mid 70s next Saturday? Don't dig out the jackets just yet, but I don't see any Dog Days locally thru mid-August. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.


Canadian Exhaust. For a few years now I've been telling you (ad nauseum) that the weather is increasingly getting stuck, stalling for days or even weeks at a time, prolonging specific weather patterns. That has been the case this summer with a massive ridge of hot high pressure sparking record highs and wildfires out west, amplifying the drought for California and the west coast. That ridge has kept a west to northwest wind flowing aloft, pushing a series of cooler fronts into the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and New England, taking the edge off the worst of the heat - and setting up favorable boundaries for frequent rains.


Searing Heat for California and Southern USA. A southward shift in the main belt of westerlies keeps a few transfusions of cooler, drier, more comfortable air pushing into the Dakotas and Minnesota by mid-August, while much of the USA continues to fry.


What Warming Means for 4 of Summer's Worst Pests. A longer mosquito season in Minnesota? Just what I wanted to hear. Details via Climate Central; here's a snippet: "...As temperatures around the country rise, the areas that are conducive to such mosquitoes could expand, and the insects could start to emerge earlier in the year, meaning more opportunities for bites that could spread disease. After an unseasonably warm late spring, summer, and early winter in 2012, the U.S. experienced a West Nile Virus outbreak linked to the Asian Tiger mosquito, with some 5,600 people becoming infected. Asian Tiger mosquitoes tend to die off when temperatures venture outside a range from 50°F to 95°F and when relative humidity dips below 42 percent. A Climate Central analysis examined how warming would affect this range for cities around the country, showing how many more “mosquito suitable” days there were now compared to 1980..."


Florida's Extended Hurricane Drought. No hurricanes in nearly 10 years? The Weather Channel takes a look at this (historic) quiet spell and a growing sense of apathy, especially among younger Floridians; here's an excerpt: "...There's little doubt that Florida's recent history with hurricanes – or lack of them, actually – plays a significant role in this. More than 9 1/2 years have passed since the last hurricane to make landfall in Florida (2005's Hurricane Wilma), by far the longest stretch of consecutive hurricane-free years for the state since 1851. Previously, the state's longest hurricane-free streak lasted five years, from 1980 to 1984. That's especially impressive when you consider the coastline of Florida spans more than 1,260 miles, and an average of eight hurricanes have formed each year since 2005. Since Wilma, more than 1 million people have moved to Florida, according to the latest U.S. Census data..."

Hurricane Wilma file image: NOAA.


In Microsoft's Nokia Debace, A View of an Industry's Feet of Clay. Disruption is no longer the exception but the rule. Smart companies are disrupting themselves (faster) before others do it for them. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Microsoft “just couldn’t imagine that a company that was once as strong and dominant as Nokia could have virtually no value.” He compared the swift rise of Apple and the withering fortunes of Nokia, BlackBerry and other once-thriving manufacturers to the arrival of an infectious virus. “We tend to think the strong will survive,” Mr. Dediu said. “But a virus is a very small thing that kills big things.” He continued: “It’s easy to say Microsoft was foolish and blame the chief executive. But when it happens to everyone, it’s an extinction event. A whole bunch of companies were disrupted. And it happened in the blink of an eye...” (Image credit here).


Obama Wants The U.S. To Be At The Forefront of Supercomputer Technology. Call me crazy but this sounds like a pretty good idea. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "President Obama has signed an Executive Order calling for the US to significantly up its game in the supercomputer space. The effort, known as the National Strategic Computer Initiative (NSCI), will aim to build the world's fastest supercomputer by 2025. The NSCI initiative will be an multi-departmental research, development and deployment effort focusing on the creation of a brand new supercomputer. The mission statement is essentially to make sure that the US has the most capable machine a decade from now, allowing for high-end computational problem solving in both the public and private sectors..." (Image: Sam Churchill).


The Adblocking Revolution is Months Away - With Consequences for Advertisers, Publishers and Google? iOS9 will allow you to block ads on Safari, on mobile and desktop. What will that mean for web sites that depend on advertising? Here's a snippet of an interesting read at The Overspill: "...Into this comes Apple, which guards the user experience on the iOS platform, its biggest moneymaker, very jealously. Apple’s executives and staff aren’t blind to the things that are going on; they use their phones, and they get the same experiences. User experience is what Apple puts above pretty much everything else, and they’ve decided that they don’t like it the experience available through the ad-supported web, and so they’re going to do something about it. Hence content blockers for Safari (and all web views) on iOS 9, which wasn’t announced onstage at WWDC but was one of those “Whoa!” moments on browsing through the Settings in the first iOS 9 beta..."


86 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Saturday.

83 F. average high on August 1.

87 F. high on August 1, 2014.

August 2, 1831: Cold outbreak across Minnesota with light frost reported at Ft. Snelling.



TODAY: Warm sun, stray T-shower possible. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 86

SUNDAY NIGHT: Clearing and more comfortable. Low: 60

MONDAY: Comfortable sun. Dew point: 53 NW 15. High: 80

TUESDAY: Vague hints of September. Partly sunny and very nice. Wake-up: 58. High: 78

WEDNESDAY: Few T-showers southern Minnesota? Wake-up: 59. High: 77

THURSDAY: Plenty of warm sunshine. Wake-up: 63. High: 80

FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, temperatures closer to normal. Wake-up: 62. High: 81

SATURDAY: Chance of showers, T-showers. Wake-up: 61. High: 80


Climate Stories....

Obama To Unveil Tougher Climate Plan With His Legacy in Mind. He's also considering future generations of unborn and the world they'll inherit. Here's the intro to a New York Times article: " In the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, President Obama will unveil on Monday a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry. The rules are the final, tougher versions of proposed regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2012 and 2014. If they withstand the expected legal challenges, the regulations will set in motion sweeping policy changes that could shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants, freeze construction of new coal plants and create a boom in the production of wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources..."

* A Facebook video from President Obama and the White House explaining the need for the Clean Power Plan is here.


Does Global Warming Actually Increase Antarctic Sea Ice? Here's an excerpt from a good explanation at Discovery News: "...Here’s that scenario in simpler terms. While sea ice has been increasing, we know from analyzing satellite data that the ice covering the land mass of Antarctica has been melting rapidly. Hansen and colleagues think that as those ice shelves disintegrate, a lot of cold freshwater is draining into the Southern Ocean. That’s creating a cold surface layer that is causing sea ice to form. Underneath that, though, the salty, denser subsurface waters are still warming..."


Earth Now Halfway to U.N. Global Warming Limit. New Scientist has the details; here's the intro: "It's the outcome the world wants to avoid, but we are already halfway there. All but one of the main trackers of global surface temperature are now passing more than 1 °C of warming relative to the second half of the 19th century, according to an exclusive analysis done for New Scientist. We could also be seeing the end of the much-discussed slowdown in surface warming since 1998, meaning this is just the start of a period of rapid warming. “There’s a good chance the hiatus is over,” says Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado..." (Graph credit: Kevin Cowtan of the University of York).


How The Pentagon Is Preparing For Climate Change In Each Part of the World. The Washington Post takes a look at a recent Defense Department report; here's an excerpt: "The Pentagon made the case Wednesday that the locations in the world most prone to instability and bloodshed also are the ones where climate change has the greatest impact, and laid out details about how top regional commanders are preparing for it. A report required by Congress covers a variety of climate issues affecting the military, noting how rising seas and severe weather can impact missions. But it also provides little-known details about how each geographic combatant command — a COCOM, in military-speak — is addressing climate change in the part of the world where they oversee operations..."

Photo credit above: "A helicopter crew working with the Coast Guard lowers a rescue swimmer into the Arctic Ocean during a joint search and rescue exercise near Oliktok Point, Alaska, on July 13." (Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst/ Coast Guard).


"Force Multiplier". The world is awash in risk. Climate change adds additional risk to the equation, with implications for food and water supplies, agriculture, migration and the potential for revolution (exhibit A: Syria). Here's more perspective on the Pentagon report from rtcc.org.


Climate Models Are Even More Accurate Than You Thought. Professional climate deniers like to squawk about how unrelieable the climate models are in the hands of those "alarmist climate scientists". It turns out they've been closer to the mark than you might think. Here's a summary of an article at The Guardian: "...There’s a common myth that models are unreliable, often based on apples-to-oranges comparisons, like looking at satellite estimates of temperatures higher in the atmosphere versus modeled surface air temperatures. Or, some contrarians like John Christy will only consider the temperature high in the atmosphere, where satellite estimates are less reliable, and where people don’t live. This new study has shown that when we do an apples-to-apples comparison, climate models have done a good job projecting the observed temperatures where humans live. And those models predict that unless we take serious and immediate action to reduce human carbon pollution, global warming will continue to accelerate into dangerous territory..."

Graphic credit above: "Comparison of 84 climate model simulations (using RCP8.5) against HadCRUT4 observations (black), using either air temperatures (red line and shading) or blended temperatures using the HadCRUT4 method (blue line and shading). The upper panel shows anomalies derived from the unmodified climate model results, the lower shows the results adjusted to include the effect of updated forcings from Schmidt et al. (2014)."

* The Carbon Brief has more perspective on climate models vs. reality and actual performance metrics.