The fastest changes in weather - and the greatest extremes in temperature and moisture can be found near the center of continents; well away from the moderating influence of ocean water. Exhibit A: Minnesota.
I'm continually amazed by how fast patterns can change at this lofty latitude. A few weeks ago our drought situation seemed dire. Today most of Minnesota is drought-free. And the area of moderate drought has fallen from 50 to 24 percent of the state - mainly northern and east central Minnesota, including much of the metro. But farmers are breathing a lot easier, or will as soon as they can get back into their muddy fields.
Feast or famine, flood or drought - most days it feels like Mother Nature has her foot on the gas - and we're all in the backseat, complaining of whiplash.
Today will feel like something out of late September with cool sunshine and a stiff north breeze. Maybe it'll blow the mosquitoes into Iowa. 80s return the latter half of late next week with mostly garden-variety thunderstorms.
No sign of a major severe storm outbreak just yet.
California's in a withering drought, Texas is overflowing with muddy water. Here we sit, green and quiet.
A Drought-Busting May. Much of the state is still too dry, but the trends are encouraging. Here's an excerpt of Mark Seeley's latest WeatherTalk Newsletter: "...The most notable feature of the month was surplus rainfall. Most climate stations reported above normal rainfall amounts, and in some cases twice normal rainfall. The wettest part of the state was across the central counties where 4 to 6 inch amounts were common. Many places reported measurable rainfall on half the days of the month. Over 40 communities reported new daily record rainfall amounts for selected dates during the month..."
Graphic credit: "Percentage of mean precipitation for May, to date". Courtesy: Midwest Regional Climate Center.
Minnesota's Drought is Fading Fast. The same shift in the pattern bringing historic rains to Texas and Oklahoma is also fueling more heavy rain for Minnesota, and the drought that kicked off spring in the Upper Midwest is fizzling faster than you can say "weather whiplash". In one week moderate drought went from affecting nearly half of Minnesota to 24% of the state. Parts of central and far southern Minnesota are now drought-free. At the rate we're going much of the state may be in good shape with soil moisture and lake/river levels within another 2-3 weeks. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor for Minnesota is here.
Weekend Break - More Storms Next Week. The leading edge of 80s and a few 90s will push northward again next week, setting the stage for more showers and T-storms by midweek; NOAA guidance suggests some 2-3" amounts for portions of southern Minnesota next week. Yes, it would be ironic if we went from drought to flood, a minor league version of what happened in Texas and Oklahoma? I'm not predicting that degree of whiplash, but we'll get a taste.
Comfortably Cool Weekend - Sticky Weather Returns Next Week. European model guidance shows the best chance of showers and T-storms next Wednesday and Thursday as dew points top 60F, meaning humid conditions. I still believe European guidance is underestimating the warmth: we should see a few days in the 80s next week. Source: Weatherspark.
Crazy Extremes. Check out the observed May rainfall and departure from normal. Much of Minnesota has seen twice as much rain as normal so far in May, Parts of Texas have seen 4-8 times more rain than typical. The Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service agrees that some of the storms next week firing up along a nearly stationary, west to east frontal zone, may pack locally heavy rain.
From Flood to Heat Wave? Watch how quickly the central and southern Plains go from biblical levels of moisture to sizzling heat in the coming weeks. GFS predicted winds at 500 mb continue to hint at the formation of a sprawling heat-pump high pressure ridge over the Plains by mid-June, which could mean 90s, even a few 100-degree highs from Denver and Wichita to Dallas. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.
Florida Setting Amazing Hurricane Record. At some point the hurricane drought will come to an end and we may tip over into a much more active pattern. Here's an excerpt of a story at wtsp.com: "No hurricane has hit Florida in nearly 10 years. It's a dry spell that has kept us safe, but it also creates a huge, dangerous challenge for emergency planners. This is the longest stretch without a hurricane Florida has experienced since records started being kept in 1851. It's one of the big things they'll be talking about at the free Tampa Bay Hurricane Expo on Saturday at MOSI in Tampa..." (Image credit: NOAA).
Which Hurricane Forecast Model Is The Best? It's still ECMWF. I hope the GFS and HWRF can catch up and surpass what the Europeans are capable of - I wouldn't bet against them over the long term, but the USA is just not there yet. Here's an excerpt of a story at CNBC: "...According to most people in the industry—or just plain statistics—the European model is the best, and has been for years. Almost any report will describe it as the best. Technically, you want to look for the acronym it goes by—ECMWF—which stands for the European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasting. A big factor in its dominance recently is due to a 2006 improvement in its model. The Europe model's advantage comes from several sources: Powerful supercomputers that can analyze larger amounts of data, taxes paid by the member nations of the European Union to help keep funding up, and charging money to other forecasters who want its data..."
The Death Toll From India's Hellish Heat Wave Is Now More Than 1,800. TIME has more details on the historic heat wave now underway in India; here's an excerpt: "...Forced to work under the blazing sun, construction workers like Devi, along with the homeless and the elderly, have been the hardest hit by the heatwave that so far has led to over 1,800 deaths, the vast majority of them concentrated in the southeastern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Together, those states account for over 1,750 deaths. Deaths have also been reported in Delhi and other states, including Gujarat and Odisha, where temperatures earlier this week peaked at a sweltering 116.6°F (47°C)..."
Photo credit above: "An Indian man enjoys high tide waves at the Arabian Sea coast in Mumbai, India, Friday, May 29, 2015. Dizzying temperatures caused water shortages in thousands of Indian villages and killed hundreds more people over the past day, driving the death toll from a weeks long heat wave to more than 1,000, officials said Friday." (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
India Heat Wave Tests Water Supply. A preview of coming attractions? Here's a clip from a story at Huffington Post: "...Thousands of water tankers were delivering supplies to more than 4,000 villages and hamlets facing acute water shortages in the central state of Maharashtra, state officials told the Press Trust of India news agency. People across India were plunging into rivers, staying in the shade and drinking lots of water to try to beat the heat. Scorched crops and dying wildlife were reported, with some animals succumbing to thirst..."
Photo credit above: "Indian devotees hold umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun during the annual festival of Sufi saint Saiwali Pir Baba at Sangral, near the India-Pakistan international border, about 38 kilometers south of Jammu, India, Thursday, May 28,2015. Eating onions, lying in the shade and splashing into rivers, Indians were doing whatever they could Thursday to stay cool during a brutal heat wave that has killed more than 1,000 in the past month." (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
India Heat Wave May Be 5th Deadliest on Record. Dr. Jeff Masters has some eye-opening details at Weather Underground: "The death toll from India's horrid May heat wave has risen to 1,826, making this year's heat wave the second deadliest in India's recorded history--and the fifth deadliest in world history. According to statistics from EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, India's only deadlier heat wave was in 1998, when 2,541 died. With over 400 deaths recorded in just the past day and the heat expected to continue over India for another week, the 1998 death toll could well be exceeded in this year's heat wave..."
The 10 Deadliest Heat Waves in World History
1) Europe, 2003: 71,310
2) Russia, 2010: 55,736
3) Europe, 2006: 3,418
4) India, 1998: 2,541
5) India, 2015: 1,826+
Image credit above: BBC News.
A Climate Link to Indian Heat. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Times of India that made me do a double-take: "Climate records show that human-induced global warming had turned 2014 into the hottest year on record. Eight out of the 10 warmest years in India were during the recent past decade (2001-2010), making it the warmest decade on record with a decadal mean temperature anomaly of 0.49 C. CSE climate researchers say more heat waves were expected as, globally, temperatures had risen by an avereage 0.8 degrees in the past 100 years. Night-time temperatures are rising too, with Ahmedabad and Delhi recently reporting 39 and 36 degrees centigrade. "The number of heat wave days may go up from about 5 to between 30 and 40 every year" they add..." (Map credit: Standard & Poor's, 2014).
Hopes Rise For a Strong El Nino To Ease California Drought. The same warm phase of the Pacific that's spiking rainfall amounts for Texas and Oklahoma may bring more much-needed rain to California later this year; here's an excerpt of a story at The Los Angeles Times: "...El Niños have been responsible for two of California's wettest and most destructive rainy seasons: the winters of 1982-83 and 1997-98. Now, experts say, a potentially powerful El Niño this winter could be the beginning of the end of the drought. This month's weather suggests how El Niño's building strength is already affecting the United States. It's giving weather scientists reason to be cautiously optimistic that it has the stamina to see it through California's rainy season, which typically begins in October and ends in April..." (File image above).
California's Drought Is So Bad, Thieves Are Now Stealing Water. The Daily Beast has the details; here's a link: "...Forget gold or cash, credit cards or gas: The hot new commodity in the land of drought is H20. In drought-plagued California, thieves are getting mighty thirsty. At least one managed to make off with a 500-gallon water tanker. The wide load just up and vanished from a highway offramp. It was early morning last Thursday when the Marina landscaping tanker truck was idling on a median by a tunnel in Oakland, according to police reports. Then some clever perp jacked it—and rode off with its tapped cargo..."
El Nino Can Raise Sea Levels Along U.S. Coast. As water warms it expands, which causes water levels to rise. Here's an excerpt of a good explainer from Climate Central: "The El Niño event underway in the Pacific Ocean is impacting temperature and weather patterns around the world. But its effects aren’t confined to the atmosphere: A new study has found that the cyclical climate phenomenon can ratchet up sea levels off the West Coast by almost 8 inches over just a few seasons. The findings have important implications in terms of planning for sea level rise, as ever-growing coastal communities might have to plan for even higher ocean levels in a warmer future..."
Image credit above: "Sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean during the very strong 1997 El Nino event." Graphic courtesy of NOAA.
"Weather Whiplash" Promises To Bring More Dangerous Extremes. Where have you heard that before? Here's a link to a segment on Thursday night's edition of the NBC Nightly News: "Scientists say climate change is exacerbating the wild weather swings amid a year of historic floods, fires, tornadoes, snow and ice across the U.S."
* 35 Trillion Gallons. That's how much water has fallen on Texas since the beginning of May, enough to cover the entire Lone Star State to a depth of 8". More remarkable statistics are here, courtesy of NBC News.
A Silver Lining To Texas's Biblical Floods? No, Mother Nature is not on a dimmer switch. Moisture is either on or off. Either Exceptional Drought, or Monsoon-like Flood. This was one heckuva way to end a prolonged drought. Here's an excerpt of a story at WIRED: "...The devastation caused by these floods is heart-wrenching. But you could consider Texas’ weather whiplash to be a good thing: These dousing storms, which seem more and more like the consequence of a strengthening El Niño, have brought an end to a four-year water shortage. Just how much of a silver lining these floods are creating, though, depends on the particular geography of Texas’ different regions—it is a gigantic place, y’all. And the land’s composition also plays a crucial role in just how bad the flooding has gotten..."
Photo credit above: "Motorists are stranded along I-45 along North Main in Houston after storms flooded the area, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Overnight heavy rains caused flooding closing some portions of major highways in the Houston area." Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle/AP.
Climate Change, A Factor in Texas Floods, Largely Ignored. Here's a clip from a story at The Texas Tribune: "...Extreme weather events, and more of them, are among the most agreed-upon effects of global warming in all the scientific literature on the subject, said Nielsen-Gammon, who is also a professor at Texas A&M University. Part of the explanation is that ocean temperatures are rising, bringing more moist air into the state that can create storm systems. In the past century, precipitation in Texas is up 7 to 10 percent, and the frequency of two-day heavy rainfall spells has nearly doubled..."
Photo credit above: "A photo provided by the Harris County Flood Control District shows flood waters covering Memorial Drive along Buffalo Bayou in Houston, May 26, 2015. The heavy rains have killed at least eight people in Texas and Oklahoma, including two in Houston where flooding turned streets into rivers." (Harris County Flood Control District via The New York Times).
Anheuser-Busch Stopped Making Beer To Can Water For Flood Victims. Kudos to Anheuser Busch for doing this, more than just a PR gesture. U.S. News has the story: "...Cheers to Anheuser-Busch. The big-time brewer has suspended beer-making in its Georgia brewery and is instead canning water for flood victims in Texas and Oklahoma, according to NBC News. Production at the Cartersville, Georgia, brewery — one of 12 Anheuser-Busch runs in the United States — was halted late Wednesday to instead produce cans of water for the American Red Cross..."
Photo credit above: "In total, 51,744 cans will be heading to flood victims in Texas and Oklahoma."
Don't Try This At Home: Grand Isle Student Captures Lightning Strike on Church Steeple. Yes, this is a little too close for comfort. Check out the video and story at Bangor Daily News: "...About 6 p.m., as a line of strong thunderstorms was passing through the St. John Valley, Bouley stood on his Grand Isle home’s front porch and aimed his iPhone camera toward the St. Gerard Catholic Church steeple. Seconds later, a bright streak of lightning can be seen hitting the building, producing a fireball and accompanied by a massive crack of thunder. “As soon as I pointed the camera to the ground and back up, it happened,” Bouley said..."
"Awair" Helps You Monitor The Air Quality In Your Home. I found this interesting, especially for people who have respiratory problems or severe allergies. Here's a snippet from Gizmag: "...You can set Awair up to track the air quality with different purposes in mind, whether it's focused on reducing allergies or increasing productivity. It will then give you recommendations on how to change your behaviors to improve the air quality for that particular purpose. Awair takes a number of readings, including the temperature, humidity, and the levels of dust, CO2, and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in the air. These are then combined to give an Awair Score, letting you know the overall quality of the air you're breathing in your own home.."
This Tiny Car Can Change Shape and Drive Sideways. This might come in handy on Highway 100. Here's a link to a video and story excerpt at Mashable: "Why do we call the Mercedes Benz Smart Car smart — when it's really just small? A truly smart car might be able to drive sideways, like the equally tiny, shape shifting EO Smart Connecting Car 2. A research project from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, the EO 2 is designed for crowded cities where rush hours are nightmares and parking in nearly non-existent..."
72 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
73 F. average high on May 29.
84 F. high on May 29, 2014.
.29" rain fell at St. Paul yesterday.
.54" rain fell yesterday at Twin Cities International Airport.
.61" rain reported at Crystal.
.63" rain at Redwood Falls Friday.
May 30, 1998: Devastating line of storms hits east central Minnesota. 100 mph winds in Scott and Dakota County. Over 500 homes damaged in Washington County. 15,000 trees lost in the Twin City metro area. 500,000 without power in Minneapolis.
May 30, 1985: Tornado hits Lakefield. The Twin Cities report 67 mph winds.
TODAY: Hints of September. Lot's of sunshine, windy and cool. Winds: N 10-15. High: 63
SATURDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear - light jacket-worthy late. Low: 45
SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, less wind. Winds: SE 10. High: 67
MONDAY: Some sun, trending milder. Wake-up: 49. High: 71
TUESDAY: Sticky sun, isolated T-storm. Wake-up: 55. High: 74
WEDNESDAY: T-storms, then steamy sun. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 63. High: 82
THURSDAY: Unsettled, more T-storms likely. Wake-up: 67. High: 83
FRIDAY: Warm sun, a bit drier. DP: 64. Wake-up: 65. High: 85
Bill Nye Under Attack For Linking Texas Floods to Climate Change. EcoWatch has the story - here's a snippet: "...And while no one single weather event can be linked to climate change, recognizing that the event is part of a larger trend of extreme weather, which is caused by climate change, should have been no big deal to do. Scientists have been saying for years that as carbon emissions increase, so will extreme downpours. “When you have a warmer atmosphere, then you have the capability to hold more water vapor,” Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists told Alternet. “When storms organize, there’s much more water you can wring out of the atmosphere compared to the past...”
File photo credit: Brian Ach/AP Images for Sylvan Learning.
Flooding From Extreme Downpours May Be More Common With Climate Change. Here's a snippet of a story at Tucson News Now: "...The below graphic shows where new records were set for May or monthly rainfall. Phoenix even made the list with 1.17" of rain, much of that coming in two spring storms passing over the city on May 4 and May 15. No flooding occurred in Phoenix but it stacks up as the wettest May on record because May is usually one of the driest months of the year for the city. June is on-average the only month drier than May..." (Graphic credit: Climate Central).
Flawed Forecast From Ducey And Climate Change Skeptics. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from azcentral.com in Arizona: "...According to a University of Arizona and Stanford University study, more than 70 percent of Arizona residents believe the government should limit greenhouse gases. The conclusions of the scientists cited above are based on methodical study of the natural world, not on whether they belong to the Republican Party or are Democrats.We live a state where climate change will have a huge impact on our lives. We need elected officials who are educated in the changes. Ducey is "skeptical" of the science. I'm skeptical of politicians."
Ben and Jerry's Made a New Flavor to Raise Global Warming Awareness. The Week has the tasty details; here's a clip: "...The flavor combines raspberry ice cream, marshmallow and raspberry swirls, and dark and white fudge ice cream cones. "We created a flavor to bring attention to this historic issue and to send out our own SOS for our planet," the company said in a news release Wednesday."
Walker's Denial of Climate Change is Extreme, Heartbreaking. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from columnist Jim Hightower at LaCrosseTribune.com: "...Symptoms include an obsessive impulse to deny that human-caused climate change is happening, often accompanied by a feverish insistence that government employees be banned from discussing it. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is suffering from this affliction. The Koch-funded governor and Republican presidential wannabe is an ardent climate-change denier. And his state’s public lands board has taken climate denial to Orwellian levels..."
File photo above: AP/The Des Moines Register, Charlie Litchfield.
Experts Warn Climate Change Affecting Tick Population. It's another bad year for ticks. A friend recently pulled 236 ticks off his dog after about an hour in the woods. Unreal. The trends in Minnesota are similar to other northern tier states, including Maine, where WMTW-TV in Augusta produced this video and story; here's a clip: "...Elias said the warmer and wetter the climate is, the more ticks there are. "We have seen a steady increase in the number of ticks in the state of Maine, starting in 1989, and we do have fluctuations from one year to the next, but there is clearly an upward and sharp trend in the number of deer ticks," Elias said. Experts said that is a problem because ticks carry a number of diseases, including Lyme disease. "The concern is that certainly last year we had 1,400 cases of Lyme disease, as well as other co-infections, as we call them, and some other tick-borne pathogens," said Jim Dill, of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension..."
If You've Wondered Why So Many Politicians Deny Climate Change, Science Has Your Answer. Because people just want to fit in and be accepted by members of their "tribe". I wish I had a tribe. Here's an excerpt from ThinkProgress: "...But according to new research published in Nature Climate Change, there’s at least one statistically proven reason why more than 56 percent of Congressional Republicans deny climate change: echo chambers. The term “echo chambers” traditionally refers to situations where people surround themselves with information they want to hear, and block out the rest. We’ve known for a while that these present themselves in climate politics; A 2014 study suggested that the reason Americans haven’t fully accepted the scientific consensus on climate change is because of echo chambers like Fox News, where conservative viewers are “exposed only to content consistent with their opinions, while shielded from dissenting views...”
Norway's $900 Billion Sovereign Fund Told To Reduce Coal Assets. Reuters has the details; here's a link and excerpt: "Norway's $900 billion sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, should cut its exposure to the global coal industry and sell stakes in firms that focus on the sector, a key parliamentary committee said on Wednesday. The finance committee agreed in a bipartisan motion that the fund, which owns about 1.3 percent of all listed companies globally, should sell stakes in firms that generate more than 30 percent of their output or revenues from coal-related activities..."
File photo above: "In this Tuesday Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. The Obama Administration’s hotly debated plan to cut the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide coming out of the nation’s power plants will save about 3,500 lives a year from also reducing other types of pollutions, a new independent study concludes." (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File).