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Paul Douglas on Weather

Drying Out - Touch of July by Midweek - Historic Flooding Paralyzes Texas

Getting Personal

"All weather, like politics, is local." Most of the time people only care about the weather floating above their homes, parks, lakes and commutes. That's pretty obvious. And in a perfect world we would issue hundreds of thousands of forecasts - for every town, village, dale, bog, zip code and GPS location in Minnesota. Everyone would be looking at something different, based on location and a host of other factors. No more one-size-fits-all weather.

That point was driven home on Saturday. Weather in the metro was gray, cool and "meh" but up north skies were glorious; postcard-perfect.

The 7-Day below (and on every local TV station) is weighted for the Twin Cities, where most of us live. But a span of only 5-25 miles can make a huge difference with the forecast. Phone apps will help but I suspect people will always respond to stories. They'll want to know why.

Minnesota dries out from west to east today but heavy showers linger from La Crosse to Eau Claire. We hit 80F later in the week before cooling down and drying out next weekend. Sunscreen should be required both days.

I could see a 90-degree high next week with a few severe storms popping.

The drought is fading fast.


Late May Soaking. We are putting a serious dent in the drought - if this keeps up much of Minnesota may be drought-free by mid-June. No guarantees, of course - there never are, but the trends are encouraging for farmers, gardeners, and anyone else who likes water in their lakes and streams. NWS Doppler radar estimates show some 1"+ rainfall amounts from Grand Marais to Wadena and St. Cloud, another streak of heavy rain over central Wisconsin.


Deformation Zone. The northern/western edge of Monday's storm set up a smear of steady, moderate to heavy rain over much of central and northern Minnesota, the kind of system that's more likely to flare up in early spring and autumn. Steady, stratiform rain is unusual in late May, but not unprecedented. Dry air became entrained into the storm's circulation, sparking enough sunshine (and subsequent instability) for a few strong T-storms over southern Minnesota by the dinner hour, with severe storm warnings near Mankato and Faribault. Source: WeatherTap.


Monsoon Season. May and June are, historically, the wettest months of the year for many cities east of the Rockies, and this year will be no exception. The southern Plains have already experienced historic flooding, and GFS data for the next 192  hours shows another 3-6" rain for Texarkana and northern Iowa by the weekend. At the rate we're going drought may be limited to the western third of the USA this summer. NOAA guidance: AerisWeather.


Trending Warmer. Today will be relatively cool and comfortable with readings below average for late May, but we warm into the low 80s Wednesday and Thursday (I think the numbers above are "light" - it should be warmer). The best chance of T-storms comes late Thursday and Friday ahead of the next cool front that should leave us with sunnier weather next weekend. We warm up again next week.


Texas Governor Calls Flood Damage "Devastating". About 3 weeks ago most of Texas was still suffering from extreme drought. And then, like turning on a light switch, the rains came, and wouldn't let up. Here's the intro to an NPR story: "Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling the flood damage in the central part of his state "absolutely devastating." Abbott flew over parts of the Blanco River today, a day after storms triggered flooding. The hardest-hit communities were Wimberley and San Marcos. Abbott added 24 counties to the disaster declaration he issued earlier this month to help communities overwhelmed with heavy rains and tornado damage..."

Photo credit above: "In this aerial photo a barn with a Texas flag painted on its roof is surrounded by water near Martindale, Texas, after the San Marcos River flooded, Sunday, May 24, 2015. Record rainfall was wreaking havoc across a swath of the U.S. Midwest on Sunday, causing flash floods in normally dry riverbeds, spawning tornadoes and forcing at least 2,000 people to flee." (Rodolfo Gonzalez/Austin American-Statesman via AP).


 

Flash Flood Emergency. Flash flood emergencies are rare, NOAA has been using them for about 7 years, but only when extreme urban flooding is being reported. From NOAA: Flash Flood Emergencies continue for all of Lee, Bastrop, and Williamson counties and far eastern Williamson and Travis counties, including the Austin metro until 12:15 AM Tuesday. Although rain has generally ended in these areas, dangerous flash flooding and river flooding is ongoing across many areas of these counties. Do NOT drive if it can be avoided as multiple roadways are flooded.

Text of (rare) Flash Flood Emergency issued Monday afternoon:

 ...THIS IS A FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY... ...THE FLASH FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 745 PM CDT FOR HAYS...CALDWELL...TRAVIS...BASTROP...SOUTHEASTERN WILLIAMSON AND LEE COUNTIES... AT 601 PM CDT...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCING HEAVY RAIN ACROSS THE WARNED AREA. DANGEROUS FLASH FLOODING WILL CONTINUE. MANY ROADWAYS ARE FLOODED. REMAIN AT HOME AND DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAVEL. THIS IS A FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY FOR HAYS...CALDWELL...BASTROP AND LEE COUNTIES. SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW! SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE... AUSTIN...PFLUGERVILLE...SAN MARCOS...TAYLOR...LOCKHART...ELGIN... BASTROP...LULING...GIDDINGS...SMITHVILLE...WIMBERLEY...LEXINGTON... WINDEMERE...TANGLEWOOD FOREST...AUSTIN BERGSTROM INT AP...KYLE... HUTTO...BUDA...MANOR AND WEST LAKE HILLS. ADDITIONAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 2 TO 4 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE IN THE WARNED AREA.

 

Adding Insult to Injury. Another 4-7" of rain was reported Monday from near Austin and Bastrop to La Grange and College Station, Texas. To put that into perspective that's 6 to 8 week's worth of rain falling in the span of a few hours, on ground already waterlogged by recent heavy rains. NWS Doppler radar rainfall estimates.


Tornado Kills 13 in Mexico - State of Emergency Declared for 24 Texas Counties. Australia's ABC Network has additional information on the rash of severe weather, including rare killer tornadoes near the Mexican border with Del Rio and almost biblical flooding for the southern Plains, with Texas hardest hit: "The savage twister roared through the Mexican border town of Ciudad Acuna at dawn, tossing cars and big rig trucks into the air before they smashed into houses and buildings. Images from the aftermath of the tornado showed several crumpled vehicles resting against walls and roofs as shell-shocked inhabitants of the town of 136,000 struggled to make sense of the devastation. The tornado came as ferocious weather battered swathes of Mexico and the southern United States, where rescuers searched for 12 people missing in flash floods across Texas and Oklahoma that left three people dead..."

Photo credit above: Ramiro Gomez, Reuters.


Children Injured After Tornado Lifts Bounce House on Beach. A waterspout that mutated into a weak tornado caused quite a stir at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida beach. Here's an excerpt and video link from wpxi.com: "Three children were injured Monday afternoon when a tornado launched a bounce house into the air near a Fort Lauderdale beach, the National Weather Service confirmed. Conditions of the injured children are not yet known. The estimated maximum distance of the tornado was 100 yards, and the estimated maximum width was 10 yards, said Chuck Caracozza, a meteorologist with the weather service. The tornado began as a waterspout off shore..."


Decade After Katrina, Pointing Finger More Firmly At Army Corp. As is usually the case in a massive disaster, there was no one smoking gun, but rather a cascade of events, only some of which could have been anticipated in advance. Here's the intro to a story at The New York Times: "Nearly 10 years on, one might assume that the case of Hurricane Katrina is closed. That the catastrophic flooding of this city was caused not merely by a powerful storm but primarily by fatal engineering flaws in the city’s flood protection system has been proved by experts, acknowledged by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and underscored by residents here to anyone who might suggest otherwise..." (Image: NOAA).


Hurricane Expert: "New England Really Gets It In The Teeth" As Climate Warms. Will warmer ocean and a continued northward shift in weather patterns impact hurricane frequency or intensit over New England? Forbes has an interesting article and interview; here's an excerpt: "...Instead of using weather observations from the field, researchers can substitute conditions predicted by global climate models—wind conditions and thermodynamic conditions of the sea and air in a hypothetical climate warmed by greenhouse gas emissions. And that has empowered Emanuel to predict in some detail how hurricanes may behave in a warmer climate. If the models prove correct—a big if—New England faces a stormy ride as the climate warms this century...." (Image: NASA).


Last year was the hottest since 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), part of what it said is a continuing trend.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May 2014 to April 2015 is the joint-warmest 12-month period in 136 years.

Those figures could rise further if the weather phenomenon known as El Nino continues to intensify, as scientists RTCC has spoken to believe it will.

- See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/05/21/el-nino-likely-to-ensure-2015-breaks-warming-records/#sthash.ALmaQ1Uu.dpuf

10 Jaw-Dropping Photos From The 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "The entries for the 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest are in, and the photographs are as stunning as ever. The annual contest asks photographers from all around world to submit photos in four categories: Travel portraits, outdoor scenes, sense of place, and spontaneous moments. Photographers are allowed to submit as many photos as they'd like for $15 apiece, with no cap on the number one person can enter. The contest, which ends June 30, is still open for entries..."

Photo credit above: "I was out in the Arches National Park to take night pictures, but the clouds moved in. I waited for about two hours in the car and finally the sky cleared and I got this image." Photograph and caption by Manish Mamtani/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.


Logging and Commercial Fishing Deadlier Professions Than Police Patrol Officers? The stuff you learn on the interweb. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...This weekend, Americans will remember their fallen soldiers, a holiday traditionally observed with barbecues and the Indianapolis 500 car race. The US military isn’t the only industry that often asks the ultimate sacrifice of its workers. Some 4,585 American civilians died in the line of duty in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (pdf). Certain jobs in particular are alarmingly risky..."


69 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.

72 F. average high on May 25.

79 F. high on May 25, 2014.

.19" rain fell Monday at KMSP.

May 25, 1862: Hail the size of "hickory nuts" falls on the Dakota Mission in Renville County.


TODAY: Showers south/east of MSP. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 71

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clearing and comfortable. Low: 59

WEDNESDAY: Warm, sticky sunshine - hints of early July. High: 83

THURSDAY: Humid, few PM storms. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 63. High: 82

FRIDAY: Showers, possible thunder. Wake-up: 64. High: 74

SATURDAY: Slow clearing, breezy and cooler. Wake-up: 56. High: 66

SUNDAY: Sunnier, milder day of weekend. Wake-up: 50. High: 72

MONDAY: Hazy sun, heating up. Wake-up: 55. High: 77


Climate Stories....

CryoSat Detects Heavy Antarctic Ice Loss. Gizmag has more details; here's an excerpt: "The ESA CryoSat mission has detected significant ice loss in a usually stable Antarctic region. The data recorded by the satellite revealed how multiple glaciers along the Southern Antarctic Peninsula started shedding ice in the 2009, with no prior warning. The findings were made by researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK. While studying the data captured by the ESA's ice mission, the team found that the glaciers have been losing ice at a rate of around 60 cubic km (14.4 cubic miles) per year..."


Oil Companies Look To Join Climate Debate. Amazingly, the path to putting some sort of price on carbon may come from the fossil fuel companies themselves. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Wall Street Journal: "...For years, a number of shareholder activists have urged companies to curb emissions. More recently, some big investors are taking global warming into consideration in their portfolio building. The Church of England and Norway’s sovereign-wealth fund, one of the world’s biggest institutional investors, have sold off shares in pure-play coal companies. At the same time, some of these companies’ own shareholders are pushing them to scale back their dependence on carbon-based fuels, worried about the future financial impact of heightened global-warming regulation..." (AP Photo/Jin Lee, File).

Looks Like a Holiday: More Showers & T-storms Today

Paying Our Respects

Saturday our pontoon wouldn't start, a stiff wind blowing us across the lake. No AAA to save us. A boater puttered over and gave us a tow - a good Samaritan, happy to help. "Lake rules" he laughed, accepting compensation in the form of cold beer.

We love the water - but we've had rotten luck with boats. A 33-footer sank in 2010, another pontoon swept off its lift, drifting for days before the sheriff returned it to our dock.

"Dad, please don't repeat these stories. I'm in the Navy. It's embarrassing" my Naval Academy grad groaned. Sorry son. My life is a cautionary tale.

When you have a child in the military you watch the news very differently. Suddenly Iraq, Iran and the South China Sea are too close for comfort. You flinch when your phone rings late at night.

Take time to thank enlisted, veterans and their families today. Take nothing for granted, especially our freedom.

Showers & T-storms linger into Tuesday; more drought-busting rains. The timing could have been better but we do need this moisture.

The boundary separating steamy from comfortable hovers overhead into next week, sparking more waves of thunderstorms as the drought eases.

Have a terrific Memorial Day.


Flash Flood Potential. NOAA has issued a flood watch from San Antonio to Kansas City - a huge expanse of real estate threatened by sustained urban and river flooding. Texas and Oklahoma have been hit very hard by flooding; an active southern branch of the jet stream Exhibit A of a strengthening El Nino warming phase in the Pacific Ocean. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.


Moist Plume. NOAA's 12 KM NAM model shows the surge of moisture responsible for extensive flooding over the Southern Plans. Minnesota is on the cool/stable side of a deep trough of low pressure, meaning little or no risk of severe storms today, but showers and T-storms may pack locally heavy rain. 84 hour accumulated rainfall product: AerisWeather.


7-Day Rainfall Potential. QPF values suggest another 4-6" of rain over the next week from near Dallas, Wichita Falls and Tulsa to Little Rock, Huntsville and Atlanta. Although the heaviest rainfall amounts are forecast to remain just south and east of Minnesota, another 1-2" of rain is possible by early next week.


Storms Roughly Every 3 Days. Right now sloppy fronts and storms are spaced about 3 days apart, a trend which should continue into next week. The boundary separating steamy heat over the Plains from cool, comfortable Canadian air will continue to hover over the Upper Mississippi Valley the next 10 days, sparking more rounds of locally heavy rain. Source: Weatherspark.


June Sizzle? Long-range GFS guidance shows the core of the jet stream lifting north as hot, steamy air expands northward across the Rockies and Plains. If this forecast verifies, still a big if, it may heat up into the 80s and 90s by mid-June. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Decade After Katrina, Pointing Finger More Firmly At Army Corp. As is usually the case in a massive disaster, there was no one smoking gun, but rather a cascade of events, only some of which could have been anticipated in advance. Here's the intro to a story at The New York Times: "Nearly 10 years on, one might assume that the case of Hurricane Katrina is closed. That the catastrophic flooding of this city was caused not merely by a powerful storm but primarily by fatal engineering flaws in the city’s flood protection system has been proved by experts, acknowledged by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and underscored by residents here to anyone who might suggest otherwise..." (Image: NOAA).


Hurricane Expert: "New England Really Gets It In The Teeth" As Climate Warms. Will warmer ocean and a continued northward shift in weather patterns impact hurricane frequency or intensit over New England? Forbes has an interesting article and interview; here's an excerpt: "...Instead of using weather observations from the field, researchers can substitute conditions predicted by global climate models—wind conditions and thermodynamic conditions of the sea and air in a hypothetical climate warmed by greenhouse gas emissions. And that has empowered Emanuel to predict in some detail how hurricanes may behave in a warmer climate. If the models prove correct—a big if—New England faces a stormy ride as the climate warms this century...." (Image: NASA).


Last year was the hottest since 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), part of what it said is a continuing trend.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), May 2014 to April 2015 is the joint-warmest 12-month period in 136 years.

Those figures could rise further if the weather phenomenon known as El Nino continues to intensify, as scientists RTCC has spoken to believe it will.

- See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/05/21/el-nino-likely-to-ensure-2015-breaks-warming-records/#sthash.ALmaQ1Uu.dpuf

Your Contribution To The California Drought. Much of our food is grown in California - I remember reading that the average distance from where food is grown to where it's consumed is about 1,000 miles. More incentive to buy (and eat) local, when possible. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state. It is the most stubborn part of the crisis: To fundamentally alter how much water the state uses, all Americans may have to give something up. The portions of foods shown here are grown in California and represent what average Americans, including non-Californians, eat in a week..."


Farming In The Sky. The future of agriculture may be...up? Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story at The Atlantic: "...The future of farming is looking up—literally, and in more ways than one: There are grow towers, rooftops, and industry talk of Waterworld-style “plant factories” in futuristic floating cities. And this vertical movement is happening for a variety of reasons. For one, by prioritizing localized operations, it offers a remedy to the mounting economic difficulties that independent farmers face when otherwise so easily underpriced by Big Ag. But more importantly, it’s rising out of environmental concerns—space, soil health, climate change, vital ecosystems decimated by monoculture..." (Photo: Edgar Su, Reuters).


10 Jaw-Dropping Photos From The 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "The entries for the 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest are in, and the photographs are as stunning as ever. The annual contest asks photographers from all around world to submit photos in four categories: Travel portraits, outdoor scenes, sense of place, and spontaneous moments. Photographers are allowed to submit as many photos as they'd like for $15 apiece, with no cap on the number one person can enter. The contest, which ends June 30, is still open for entries..."

Photo credit above: "I was out in the Arches National Park to take night pictures, but the clouds moved in. I waited for about two hours in the car and finally the sky cleared and I got this image." Photograph and caption by Manish Mamtani/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.



64 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

72 F. average high on May 24.

80 F. high on May 24, 2015.

.29" rain fell at KMSP yesterday. Eau Claire reported .70" of rain.

May 24, 1925: After seeing a high of 99 degrees two days earlier, the Twin Cities picked up a tenth (.10) of an inch of snow.

May 24, 1908: Tornadoes hit the counties of Martin and Blue Earth. Source: MPX National Weather Service.


MEMORIAL DAY: A few showers and T-storms likely, damp most of the day. Winds: SW 15. High: 68

MONDAY NIGHT: Showers begin to taper. Low; 57

TUESDAY: Sunny start, PM T-storm possible, especially up north. High: 72

WEDNESDAY: More sun, feels like summer again. Wake-up: 59. High: 80

THURSDAY: Sticky sunshine, a taste of July. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 62. High: 82

FRIDAY: Showers and T-storms likely. Wake-up: 60. High: 72

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, cooler, less humid. Wake-up: 53. High: 66

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, quite pleasant. Wake-up: 47. High: near 70


Climate Stories...

Shell Boss Warns That Unchecked Fossil Fuel Burning Will Cause Global Warming. Could there arise new technologies even more disruptive than fracking, that allow us to burn fossil fuels without CO2 emissions? I wouldn't rule anything out. Even though this appears like a remote technological miracle today, new processes and materials could make today's (pipe-dream) a reality at some point in the future. That said, we can't count on this kind of innovation; we may have to dial down fossil fuel use even faster to stay within a 2C temperature rise. Here's an excerpt of a story at Christian Today: "The world's fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned unless some way is found to capture their carbon emissions, Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on Friday. In an interview published in the Guardian newspaper, Van Beurden forecast that global energy use would produce "zero carbon" by the end of the century, and that his group would get a "very large segment" of its earnings from renewable power..."