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In the Calm Eye of a Meteorological Storm

14 Fun Facts About Dragonflies...

I was poking around in the garden this weekend and my 5-year old son came up to me holding this beautiful dragonfly. It didn't move much, made me wonder if he was tired from breakfast. It got me thinking, what to dragonflies even eat? It turns out they help control the mosquito population and can eat as many as 30 to 100 mosquitoes a day! WOW!! Here's an excerpt from SmithsonianMag.com HERE:

Flying insects are usually annoying. Mosquitoes bite you, leaving itchy red welts. Bees and wasps sting. Flies are just disgusting. But there’s something magical about dragonflies.

1 ) Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago. Modern dragonflies have wingspans of only two to five inches, but fossil dragonflies have been found with wingspans of up to two feet.

2 ) Some scientists theorize that high oxygen levels during the Paleozoic era allowed dragonflies to grow to monster size.

3 ) There are more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies, all of which (along with damselflies) belong to the order Odonata, which means “toothed one” in Greek and refers to the dragonfly’s serrated teeth.

4 ) In their larval stage, which can last up to two years, dragonflies are aquatic and eat just about anything—tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, other insect larvae and even each other.

5 ) At the end of its larval stage, the dragonfly crawls out of the water, then its exoskeleton cracks open and releases the insect’s abdomen, which had been packed in like a telescope. Its four wings come out, and they dry and harden over the next several hours to days.

6 ) Dragonflies are expert fliers. They can fly straight up and down, hover like a helicopter and even mate mid-air. If they can’t fly, they’ll starve because they only eat prey they catch while flying.

7 ) Dragonflies catch their insect prey by grabbing it with their feet. They’re so efficient in their hunting that, in one Harvard University study, the dragonflies caught 90 to 95 percent of the prey released into their enclosure.

8 ) The flight of the dragonfly is so special that it has inspired engineers who dream of making robots that fly like dragonflies.

9 ) Some adult dragonflies live for only a few weeks while others live up to a year.

10 ) Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.

11 ) Dragonflies, which eat insects as adults, are a great control on the mosquito population. A single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.

12 ) Hundreds of dragonflies of different species will gather in swarms, either for feeding or migration. Little is known about this behavior, but the Dragonfly Swarm Project is collecting reports on swarms to better understand the behavior. (Report a swarm here.)

13 ) Scientists have tracked migratory dragonflies by attaching tiny transmitters to wings with a combination of eyelash adhesive and superglue. They found that green darners from New Jersey traveled only every third day and an average of 7.5 miles per day (though one dragonfly traveled 100 miles in a single day).

14 ) A dragonfly called the globe skinner has the longest migration of any insect—11,000 miles back and forth across the Indian Ocean.

Severe Threats: Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday

According to NOAA's SPC, there is a risk of strong to severe storms as we head into next week. At this point, there is a MARGINAL risk for severe storms late in the Monday across much of Minnesota, while Tuesday there is another threat across the much of the state. By Wednesday, the threat shifts farther east.





Simulated Radar 
 
The simulated radar from midday midday Sunday to Wednesday shows a fairly active start to the week. It appears the first round of potentially strong to severe storms with locally heavy rainfall would arrive late Monday into Tuesday before skirting south of the region Wednesday.
 
 
Heavy Rainfall Potential Ahead
 
The rainfall forecast  through AM Thursday shows pockets of heavier rain across the Arrowhead and southern Minnesota. Some locations could see nearly 1" over the next few days as our storm threat moves through this week.
 
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GREG in the Eastern Pacific
 
The National Hurricane Center continues to track GREG, which as of early Saturday was a tropical storm with sustained winds of 50mph. GREG is the 7th named storm of the 2017 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season. There have been 3 hurricanes this season, 1 of which was a major hurricane (FERNANDA) that reached category 4 strength. The IR satellite loop below shows a big blob of thunderstorms, but nothing really well-defined. 
 
 
 Tracking GREG
 
Here's the official track for GREG, which has it staying a tropical storm through next week. The good news is that this storm will continue to drift west, away from any major land masses.
 
 
Greg Strength
 
Most of the forecast models for GREG keep this storm at tropical storm status, but one brings it close to hurricane strength as we head into the next couple/few days.
 
 
Eastern Pacific Outlook: Next 5 Days
 
Weather conditions in the Eastern Pacific continue to remain active as NOAA's NHC is keeping an eye on 2 other waves of energy east of GREG one has become Tropical Depression NINE while the other one has become Tropical Depresison TEN.
 
 
Tropical Depression NINE
 
According to NOAA's NHC, this particular storm could become a tropical storm over the weekend and potentially even become our 4th hurricane of the season by Tuesday. This storm is forecast to track a little closer to Mexico, which will help to bring higher surf along the west coast of Mexico.
 
 
Tropical Depression TEN
 
This storm also has the potential to become a tropical storm as we head through the weekend, but turning into a tropical storm prior to NINE. The other difference is that this storm is not expected to turn into a hurricane. 
 
 
Atlantic Outlook: Next 5 Days

Meanwhile, the Atlantic basin looks to remain quiet over the next 5 days. Stay tuned...

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2017 Lightning Fatalities 

According to NOAA's NWS, there have been 7 lightning fatalities so far this year, the most recent coming from North Carolina on July 18th as a 40-some year old man was walking to store. Note that 4 of these deaths have occurred in Florida, which is considered to be the lightning capital of the United States. 

Lightning Deaths Over the Last 10 Years

According to NOAA's NWS, lightning kills an average of 47 people each year in United States! Over the last 10 years, 310 people have died from lightning and what is interesting is that nearly 79% have been males!

 
Lightning Safety: Myths & Facts

Did you know that lightning is nearly 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun? Here are a few interesting myths and facts from NOAA's NWS regarding lightning:

Myth: If you're caught outside during a thunderstorm, you should crouch down to reduce your risk of being struck.
Fact: Crouching doesn't make you any safer outdoors. Run to a substantial building or hard topped vehicle. If you are too far to run to one of these options, you have no good alternative. You are NOT safe anywhere outdoors. See our safety page for tips that may slightly reduce your risk.

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it's a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building is hit an average of 23 times a year

Myth: If it’s not raining or there aren’t clouds overhead, you’re safe from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the center of the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the blue” can strike 10-15 miles from the thunderstorm.

Myth: Rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning by insulating you from the ground.
Fact: Most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning. When lightning strikes a vehicle, it goes through the metal frame into the ground. Don't lean on doors during a thunderstorm.

Myth: A lightning victim is electrified. If you touch them, you’ll be electrocuted.
Fact: The human body does not store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning Myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!

Myth: If outside in a thunderstorm, you should seek shelter under a tree to stay dry.
Fact: Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. Better to get wet than fried!

See more on lightning including safety tips HERE:

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PRELIMINARY 2017 Tornado Map

It certainly has been a fairly active first half of 2017 with 1187 preliminary tornado reports through July 21st. Note that this is the most tornadoes through July 11th since 2011, when there were 1,655 reports. The map below shows the distribution of the tornadoes so far this year. 

PRELIMINARY 2017 Tornado Count

According to NOAA's SPC, the PRELIMINARY 2017 tornado count is 1187 (through July 21). Note that is the most active year for tornadoes since 2011, when there were 1,655 tornadoes. Keep in mind there was a major tornado outbreak in the Gulf Coast region from April 25-28, 2011 that spawned nearly 500 tornadoes, some of which were deadly. That outbreak is known as the Super Outbreak of 2011 and has gone down in history as one of the biggest, costliest and one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in history.


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National Weather Hazards Ahead...

1.) Locally heavy rain for the eastern Carolinas, Mon-Tue, Jul 24-25.
2.) Heavy rain shifting southeast across the upper to middle Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes, and Midwest, Tue-Thu, Jul 25-27.
3.) Flash flooding possible for parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, Mon-Fri, Jul 24-28.
4.) Excessive heat for parts of the lower Mississippi Valley, Oklahoma, and Texas, Thu-Fri, Jul 27-28.
5.) Excessive heat continuing for parts of Oklahoma and Texas, Sat-Mon, Jul 29-31.
6.) Flash flooding possible for the desert Southwest, Sat-Fri, Jul 29-Aug 4.
7.) Slight risk of much above-normal temperatures for much of the western U.S. and Great Plains, Sat-Fri, Jul 29-Aug 4.
8.) Flooding occurring, imminent, or possible for parts of the upper Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes, and Midwest.
9.) Severe Drought across parts of the Great Plains, Arizona, California, and Hawaii.

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"Parts of North Dakota now in exceptional drought"

Six percent of North Dakota is now experiencing exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which was updated Thursday. It is the first time since 2006 that the state has been put in a D4 drought rating. The Drought Monitor also shows 34 percent of the state is in extreme drought (D3), 17 percent in severe drought (D2) and 17 percent in moderate drought (D1).  Seventy-four percent of the state is experiencing some level of drought, two percentage points higher than last week. Meanwhile, more drought resources have been shaking loose for midwestern farmers and ranchers affected by the worsening conditions in primarily Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

See more from WillistonHerald.com HERE:

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EXCEPTIONAL Drought in North Dakota
 
According to the US Drought Monitor, parts of North Dakota are now under an EXCEPTIONAL Drought. Interestingly, this is the first time since 2006! While a little more than 6% is considered to be in an EXCEPTIONAL drought, more than 40% is under an EXTREME drought, which is up from the nearly 36% last week. Also, nearly 94% of the state is considered to be either abnormally dry or in some type of drought.
 
 
Rain Needed to End Drought
 
Exceptional and Extreme drought conditions are in place over parts of Montana and North and South Dakota due to several days/week of hot and dry weather. The image below suggests how much rain would be needed to end the drought, which suggests nearly 6" to 12" or more!
 

 
US Drought Monitor
 
According to the US Drought Monitor, drought conditions from July 11h to July 18th worsened slightly across the nation. Note that EXCEPTIONAL and EXTREME drought conditions (located across parts of Montana and parts of North and South Dakota increased from last week
 

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National Weather Outlook

Here's the weather outlook through the middle next week, which shows stormier weather starting to develop across the northern tier of the nation once again. Some of these storms could be strong to severe with areas of heavy rainfall, which could lead to localized flooding. There will also be a continued monsoon storm threat across the Desert Southwest through the week with the potential of damaging winds, dust storms and localized flooding.

 
Severe Threats Sunday & Monday
 
Here are the severe weather concerns for Sunday & Monday, which shows the best potential of strong to severe storms parts of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes into parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic State on Sunday. The severe threat continues across parts of the Northeast on Monday, but also moves back into the Upper Midwest.
 

Excessive Rainfall Potential Sunday & Monday

According to NOAA's WPC, there is a risk of excessive rain on Sunday across parts of the Central and Eastern US especially across West Virginia, but the best chance is located across the Desert Southwest. On Monday, the heavy rainfall threat continues across parts of the Northeast and the Desert Southwest.
 


Localized Heavy Rain Threats

Excessive rainfall potential is in place over parts of the Northeast over the next couple/few days and the rainfall forecast suggests some 1" to 2"+ rainfall tallies through AM Thursday. Areas of heavy rain could lead to localized areas of flooding. 


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Monsoonal Storms

WOW - take a look at this video that @WesCallisonTNN tweeted a couple of days ago, which shows a montoon storm developing and dumping a huge blob of heavy rain over some of the mountains in Arizona. These types of heavy rainfall events can lead to dust storms and flash flooding.

 
 
Monsoon Storms Continue

Here's the simulated radar from Sunday to Thursday, which shows the potential of daily monsoon storms continuing across the region. Note that some of the storms could be a little on the strong side with gusty winds, dust storms and locally heavy rain, which could lead to localized flooding. The 5 day rainfall forecast below suggests that some areas could see up to 1" of rain or more through the end of next week!

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"Smoke from Mariposa fire obscures vistas in Yosemite National Park"

"Smoke was taking a visible toll Saturday on Yosemite National Park, where some of the most picturesque vistas on earth were hidden behind eerie curtains of thick haze drifting in from the devastating Detwiler fire, about 35 miles to the west. From the famous Tunnel View overlook on Highway 41, granite monoliths towering over Yosemite Valley including El Capitan and Half Dome resembled gray silhouettes. Bridal Veil Falls was barely visible. Earlier in the week, these formations, along with waterfalls gushing with unusually heavy runoff from this winter’s historic snowpack, could not be seen at all through the gray shroud."

See more from LATimes HERE:

(Smoke from the Detwiler fire blankets the entire Yosemite Valley, as seen from the Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times))

DetWiler Fire - Near Yosemite - California

The Detwiler Fire located near Yosemite National Park in California has ballooned to a very large 75,200 acre fire since Sunday, July 16th. This fire has already consumed more than 120 structures; 60 homes, 63 minor structures and 1 commercial structure. A number of other homes and smaller structures have been damaged as well, but 1,500 other structures are being threatened now. There are almost 4,500 people working on the fire and it is only 30% contained at this point . Gusty winds will continue to keep this fire threat high.

See more from CAL Fire HERE:

 
Lodgepole Complex - Montana

According to Inciweb, one of the largest fires currently burning in the Lower 48 is the Lodgepole Complex located 52 miles NW of Jordan, MT. This particular fire has consumed a whopping 125,000 acres and is expected to be fully contained by Wednesday, August 2nd. This particular fire started on Wednesday, July 19th and quickly spread as hot, dry and windy weather created extreme fire behavior. Gusty winds are still posing a concern for the fire.

See more from Inciweb HERE:

 
Ongoing Large Wildfires

Here's a look at the current wildfire map across the country. Recent hot and dry weather has helped to spark several wildfires across the Western US, while a few have also been popping up in the Eastern US.

Here's a list of all the current large wildfires from Inciweb:

 
National Smoke Analysis
 
Here's the projected wildfire smoke concentration for midday Sunday, which suggests that smoke from wildfires burning across parts of Canada and the Western US could continue to linger around the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes region. There also appears a very high concentration of smoke from fires burning across the western half of Canada. If you are in these areas, air quality could be a little poor, but these areas may also be enjoying very interesting looking sunrises/sunsets, which tend to look hazy or reddish-orange.
 
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Excessive Heat Concerns
 
Excessive Heat Warning and Advisories continue across many locations in the Central and Eastern US through the weekend. Dangerous heat index values of 100F to 115F may be possible in these areas.
 
 
Hot Week Ahead
 
Take a look at the extended forecast below for St. Louis, MO and Raleigh, NC below. Note that after several days of dangerous heat, the excessive heat looks to finally break a bit into early next week. Temperatures may finally get back to near normal levels as we head into the last week of July. However, there still could be a few heat spikes in St. Louis with temps nearing 100F again.
 

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In the Calm Eye of a Meteorological Storm
By Paul Douglas
 
Some days I daydream what it would be like to live in a place with no weather. No, not Pluto. Say San Diego? "What time will the fog burn off? Will it get to 82 or 84F?" That would be fun for a few weeks, and then I would succumb to boredom. Phoenix heat? Florida, where locals shuffle around in furs and boots when winter temperatures fall into the 50s? I'd injure myself laughing.
 
We get 4 real seasons in Minnesota. Plenty of variety; sometimes too much variety! But rarely is it dull.
 
Until the Summer of '17. Weather systems are in a holding pattern, fronts floundering in slow-motion.
 
A faint puff of Canadian air drops temperatures and humidity levels Sunday and Monday. Better sleeping weather. We warm up later in the week but dangerous heat, extended days or weeks above 90 or 100F, stays south of Minnesota into early August.
 
Meanwhile, exceptional drought is gripping the Dakotas (impacting wheat prices), while Chicago and parts of Wisconsin are underwater from waves of severe thunderstorms and blistering heat grips the nation's breadbasket. We are relatively lucky this year.
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Extended Forecast

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and cooler. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 79

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfy. Winds: N 5. Low: 60

MONDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Light winds. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 81

TUESDAY: Sticky with scattered T-storms. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 64. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Few T-storms, especially southern MN. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: 82

THURSDAY: Plenty of sun. Drier day. Winds: NE 3-8. Wake-up: 65. High: 84

FRIDAY: Blue sky. Not too many complaints. Winds: N 3-8. Wake-up: 66. High: 85

SATURDAY: A fine, sunny summer day. Winds: NW 3-8. Wake-up: 67. High: 86.
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This Day in Weather History
July 23rd

1987: The greatest deluge ever recorded begins in the Twin Cities, with 10 inches of rain in six hours at MSP airport.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
July 23rd

Average High: 83F (Record: 105F set in 1934)
Average Low: 64F (Record: 47F set in 1876)

Record Rainfall: 9.15" set in 1987
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
July 17th

Sunrise: 5:49am
Sunset: 8:49pm

Hours of Daylight: 15hours & 00mins

Daylight LOST since yesterday: ~2 minute and 2 seconds
Daylight LOST since summer solstice (June 20th): ~37 minutes
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Moon Phase for July 23rd at Midnight
0.9 Days Since New Moon 

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Weather Outlook For Sunday

Here's the weather outlook for midday Sunday, which suggests not only cooler temperatures in place, but also much more comfortable air in place as dewpoints fall from the 60s/70s to the 50s across much of the state!

 
Weather Outlook For Sunday
 
On the backside of the storm system that brought us widely scattered showers and storms over the last couple/few days, winds will turn out of the NW, which will allow cooler, less humid air to move in on Sunday. Winds could be a little gusty at times over open areas with gusts approaching 15/20mph through the afternoon.
 
 
Weather Outlook For Sunday
 
Here's the weather outlook for midday Sunday where areas of clouds will linger across the Arrowhead, parts of eastern Minnesota and into northern Wisconsin. The good news is that we will stay dry under partly to mostly sunny skies.
 

UV Index for Sunday - HIGH

The UV Index will be considered HIGH across much of the state of Minnesota on Monday, which means that it will only 20 to 30 minutes or less to burn unprotected skin. With that said, if you are planning on spending any extended length of time outside, make sure you wear appropriate attire and lather on the sun block!

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Weather Outlook For Monday

Monday will be another very comfortable day across the region, especially considering that it is late July. High temps will spread from the 70s across northeastern MN to the low/mid 80s across the central and western part of the state. The good news is that dewpoints will still be very comfortable in the 50s. 

M

UV Index for Monday - VERY HIGH

The UV Index for Monday is expected to be VERY HIGH once again, which means that your skin could burn in 15 to 20 minutes or less!

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Minneapolis Temperature Outlook

Here's the temperature outlook through August 6th, which shows temperatures taking a little bit of a dip on Sunday compared to where we were on Saturday. As we head through the last full week of July, temperatures will slowly climb into the 80s. The forecast into early August keeps temperatures in the low to mid 80s. Stay tuned...

 
8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, the extended temperature outlook from July 31st to August 4th suggests warmer than average temperatures continuing across much the western half of the Upper Midwest as we head into the early part of August. Temperatures closer to the Great Lakes may be a little closer to average.


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Extended Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, the extended temperature outlook through August 4th shows much of the nation will be dealing with above normal temperatures as we head into early August. However, temperatures across the northeastern part of the country and some in the Desert Southwest could be a little closer to average.

Extended Temperature Outlook

Here's the extended 850mb temperature anomaly loop into next weekend. This describes how warm or cold (from average) mid/low level temperatures will be over time. Note that the warmer oranges and reds are still in place across much of the nation, but there are some cooler blues moving in across the Midwest/Great Lakes/Ohio Valley and the Northeast through the week. While it'll still be hot for much of teh nation, places like St. Louis, MO and surrounding areas will get a nice break from the ridiculous heat that has been in place there over the last several days. 

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Weather Outlook Ahead

The weather outlook over the next couple of days shows stormy weather continuing across parts of the Southern and Eastern US. Some of the storms in these areas could be strong to severe with locally heavy rains. There could also be a few strong storms in the Southwest with locally heavy rain, but heavy rain also looks to be possible in the Upper Midwest as we head into early next week.

5 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the next several days could produce areas of locally heavy rainfall across parts of the Eastern half of the country with some locations seeing as much as 1" to 2"+ rainfall, which could lead to areas of flooding. There will also be areas of heavy rain in the Southwest due to monsoon storms with some 3"+ tallies possible there.

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"New rift found in Antarctic ice shelf just weeks after 1 trillion tonne iceberg broke free"

"Just weeks after a massive 1 trillion tonne iceberg broke free from Antarctica, scientists have found a brand new crack in the Antarctic ice shelf. Researchers monitoring the Larsen C ice shelf and its response to the dramatic birth of the new iceberg suggest that the new rift may cause further loss of ice from the Antarctic region. "A new rift appears to be extending northwards (towards the top left) and may result in further ice shelf area loss," researchers at Project Midas, which is monitoring the changes of Larsen C and A68 said."

See more from IBTimes HERE:

(Map of Larsen C, overlaid with NASA MODIS thermal image from July 12 2017, showing the iceberg has calved)


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"The Weather Forecast for August, September and October? Hot!"

"Grab that iced tea — much of the U.S. has had a hot summer so far, and it's only going to get hotter, according to a report released today (July 20) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For the next three months — August, September and October — the United States is predicted to have above-average temperatures, Dan Collins, a meteorologist and seasonal forecaster with the NOAA Climate Prediction Center-Operational Prediction Branch, said in news briefing today. "You can see that across the entire United States, including Alaska, there is more of a chance that temperatures will be above normal," Collins said. "

See more from LiveScience HERE:

(The three-month forecast shows that the U.S. will likely have above-normal temperatures (right) and only slightly above-normal rainy conditions in the American Southwest and Alaska (left).)


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"New homes will now require solar panels in South Miami, a first in Florida"

"Anyone building a new house in South Miami — or in some cases renovating existing ones — will have to install solar panels after the city commission approved a groundbreaking law Tuesday night. The measure, the first of its kind in Florida, will go into effect in two months on Sept 18. The ordinance passed 4-1 Tuesday night, with commissioner Josh Liebman dissenting."  "Under the rules, new residential construction would require 175 square feet of solar panel to be installed per 1,000 square feet of sunlit roof area, or 2.75 kw per 1,000 square feet of living space, whichever is less. If the house is built under existing trees, the shade may exempt it. Home renovations that replace more than 75 percent of the structure or extend the structure by more than 75 percent would also have to follow the new ordinance. South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a biology professor at Florida International University, has championed this measure. His entire home runs on solar and he drives an electric car. His monthly electric bill is about $10."

See more from MiamiHerald HERE:

(South Miami passed a new law on July 18, 2017, requiring all new homes built in the city to have solar panels, the first such measure in Florida. The law, which goes into effect in September, also applies to some residential renovations. Al Diaz adiaz@miamiherald.com)


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Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

Storm Risk Today - Breathing Easier Sunday - Summertime Situational Awareness

The Importance of Summertime Situational Awareness

A recent flash flood tragedy in Arizona, with 10 members of one family swept to their deaths by a surging wall of water, got me thinking about the limits of technology.

What could they have done differently, so they'd still be with us today? Apps on smart phones and a portable NOAA weather radio increase the odds of hearing a warning in time but there are still gaps in coverage. You can call up Doppler radar on your phone now, and take note of a distant storm's track before hitting the water. On volatile summer days it's a good idea to have a designated "weather-watcher", someone who can tap you on the shoulder when it's time to go. The grim reality: in spite of Doppler and streamlined warning services there technology won't save us, the government won't save us. Its up to each of us to take responsibility for our personal safety.

A stray T-storm can't be ruled out today, but winds swinging around to the northwest will pull more comfortable air into town Sunday and Monday, as dew points dip into the 50s.

The worst of the heat stays south of Minnesota into early August, but odds still favor a real summer. MSP has picked up 9 days above 90F so far in 2017. Average is 11. 2016 brought 13 days above 90.

A little perspective: 1988 saw an astounding 44 days above 90 degrees!


90-Degree Days in the Twin Cities. So far in 2017 a total of 9 days at or above 90F. This compares to a summer average of 11 days, but 13 days > 90F were reported last year. To keep things in perspective during the heat wave and drought of 1988 a total of 44 days at or above 90F were observed at MSP!



Adequate Soil Moisture for the MSP Metro. Rainfall amounts are running close to average since the start of meteorological summer on June 1.


Drying Out Up North. Although not nearly as dire as the drought gripping the Dakotas and Montana, counties near Bemidji are running a 4-6" rainfall deficit since May 1. In start contrast to southeastern Minnesota and a huge hunk of Wisconsin, where it won't stop raining.


How Unusual is 100-Degree Heat in Minnesota? It turns out it's not all that unusual at all, according to my friend and climate guru, Dr. Mark Seeley. Here's an excerpt from his latest Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...The statistics for the past 40 years (my time as Extension Climatologist) show that 80 percent of the time (32 years), a temperature of 100 degrees F or higher is measured somewhere in the state. More often such readings come from western or southern Minnesota counties. For example, 19 of the 40 years the highest temperature in the state was measured in Traverse, Lyon, Lac Qui Parle, or Redwood Counties. These statistics conform to those of our state climate history all the way back to the second half of the 19th Century. Most of the all-time daily high temperature records for the state come from climate stations in Big Stone, Traverse, Lac Qui Parle, and Yellow Medicine Counties. On rare occasions the state's highest daily temperature for a given year may come from southeastern Minnesota, as was the case in 1985 when Theilman (Wabasha County) reported 103 degrees F on June 10th..."


Dangerously Hot. Check out the heat index on Saturday: 106F at Wichita and Kansas City, 113F at St. Louis. Today appears to be the worst day for heat and humidity, followed by slow improvement by early next week.



Seasonably Warm. The epicenter of discomfort passes south of Minnesota into next week, with temperatures generally within a few degrees of the average high (84F). I still think Sunday will bring 70s with a brief dip in dew point - it should feel better out there. Twin Cities ECMWF data: WeatherBell.


Serious Dog Days. NAM guidance pulls a few bands  of heavy showers and T-storms across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes today into the Mid Atlantic by Sunday, providing slight relief from the blazing heat and obnoxious humidity levels. Garden-variety instability T-showers sprout over the Gulf Coast, with monsoonal T-storms over the desert southwest, a few capable of flash flooding. The west coast remains dry; no weather-related help for the brushfires near Yosemite. Loop: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.


Nagging Heat - Slight Relief Far North. The heat wave of '17 shows no signs of letting up over the southern half of the nation, but as we've been mentioning in recent days a series of feeble Canadian cool fronts should provide slight relief for far northern cities, from Seattle to the Twin Cities, Chicago, Cleveland and New England by early August.



Midpoint of Summer. Temperatures tend to peak roughly 1 month after the Summer Solstice, although there is some variation across North America (hottest weather in south Texas and south Florida doesn't come until August).


Editorial: Envisioning a Chicago Future Without Massive Flood Damage. Development of land in flood-prone suburbs is coming back to bite much of Chicago this summer as waves of heavy thunderstorms produce widespread flooding. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the Chicago Sun Times Editorial Board: "The massive flooding ravaging parts of the Chicago area is doing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, and all because of a basic failure of planning. It is foolish that so many homes and businesses stand in low-lying areas that are susceptible to flooding. It need not be that way. Among possible solutions, we support a call for the federal government — which already is spending billions of dollars on flood insurance for some properties that flood again and again — to buy out more homes and businesses that repeatedly flood and raze them as the owners voluntarily move elsewhere. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, on its own, already has done some of this..."

Photo credit: "Flooding continued Monday in Fox Lake, Ill., along the Chain O' Lakes."
(Gilbert R Boucher II/Daily Herald via AP)


Security Camera Catches Tornado Winds Lifting Car. And this was a small tornado; exhibit A why you don't want to be in or near a vehicle when tornado-force winds are possible. Here's a clip from UPI.com: "A New York state man's home security camera captured the moment strong winds from a tornado lifted his car off the ground. Kevin Karas posted a video to Facebook showing footage from a home security camera that was pointed at his driveway in Hamburg during a Thursday storm that saw two tornadoes touch down in the town. The video shows Karas' car becoming briefly airborne in the high winds before crashing into a nearby tree..."

The video shows Karas' car becoming briefly airborne in the high winds before crashing into a nearby tree.

Shocking Secrets About Lightning, Exposed. I enjoyed an article written by Matthew Cappucci, writing for Capital Weather Gang. Here are a couple of excerpts: "...The phenomenon is a spectacular sight to behold, and was widely viewed on May 18 in Bethany, Okla., at the “antenna farm.” Here, more than a dozen thousand-foot-high towers are all crammed into a three-square-mile plot of land, and the results can be electrifying. On this particular day, at least 20 bolts of lightning shot upward into the cloud from the towers, especially strange considering the storm had already left. Some even assert that this type of lightning is caused by humans, since it is almost exclusively caught leaping from man-made structures...However, the charge of lightning can offer quite a bit of key information about the strike. Positive flashes, for instance, are considered particularly dangerous, because they originate from the top of severe thunderstorms. Here, the “electric potential” is strong enough to give rise to supercharged lightning bolts, oftentimes three- to 100-times more powerful than ordinary lightning. These “sparks on steroids” have a high enough peak current that they are able to travel many miles from the parent storm cloud, posing a danger to folks that may find themselves under otherwise clear skies and sunshine..."

Photo credit: "Lightning strikes in Cape Cod Bay, Mass., on May 23, 2014." (Matthew Cappucci)



New Forecast Models Could Give You An Extra Hour to Hide From a Tornado. This may be overstating the capability, at least looking out 5-10 years. And early research suggests that if the warnings are too long many people are tempted to get into vehicles to try to escape the area vs. hunkering down in the basement, which is obviously counterproductive (last place you want to be during a tornado is in your car or truck). Here's an excerpt from ScienceAlert: "...Warn on Forecast could eventually provide severe weather warnings up to three hours in advance, say the researchers working on the technology, and in the case of its first trial run it gave Oklahoma residents 90 minutes to brace themselves for large hail and tornadoes. "We had a picture of the storms and their evolution before they became life-threatening," says one of the team, science operations officer Todd Lindley. "We used this model guidance to forecast with greater lead time and greater confidence." Today, tornado warnings are issued by forecasters manually studying satellite data and volatility in the atmosphere, but WoF takes in more data and analyses its patterns in ways human brains aren't equipped to..."

Image credit:" WoF produces a "firehose" of data, say researchers. NOAA.


Photo credit: Niccolò Ubalducci/Flickr.com



The World's Plastic Problem. According to a story at Quartz the vast majority of all the plastic humans have ever made is still sitting somewhere on the planet: "In total, according to a paper published today (July 19) in Science Advances, humans have made 8.3 billion metric tons of new plastics since 1950. And, thanks in large part to the global popularity of single-use plastic packaging, half that total was made in just the last decade. The problem is plastic doesn’t ever really disappear—at least not on any timescale that would be relevant to humans. Recycling plastic helps some, but it doesn’t make it go away, it just delays the date at which it ultimately ends up in a landfill. So each year, the plastic we make piles onto the plastic we made the year before, and the year before that, and so on..."

Photo credit: "Recycling only delays the day a plastic object ends up in a landfill." (Reuters/China Daily)


Fortune 500. Fortune is out with the latest list: Walmart at the top, Apple is #3: "This year’s Fortune 500 marks the 63rd running of the list. In total, Fortune 500 companies represent two-thirds of the U.S. GDP with $12 trillion in revenues, $890 billion in profits, $19 trillion in market value, and employ 28.2 million people worldwide..."


Healthier Living Could Reduce Worldwide Dementia by a Third, Report Says. The Washington Post has more detail: "Up to one-third of the world’s dementia cases could be prevented by addressing factors such as education, hypertension, diet, hearing loss and depression over the course of a person’s lifetime, according to a new report presented Thursday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London. The report was compiled by the first Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care, which brought together 24 experts from around the world to review scores of studies and synthesize them into a model showing how lifestyle modification could reduce dementia risk. Around 47 million people have dementia worldwide, and that number is projected to triple by 2050..." (File photo: BBC).


Hip-Hop Is Bigger Than Rock Music, Thanks to Nobody Buying Albums. An interesting development, courtesy of Quartz: "...According to Nielsen Music’s latest semi-annual report, hip-hop (including R&B) is now the biggest genre in the US, overtaking rock music for the very first time. Hip-hop claims 25.1% of all music consumption, while rock music is at 23%. Why this happened has as much to do with US’s listening methods as it does the undeniable talent of many modern-day rappers. In the 1990s, CD sales still dominated. Digital-music streaming has now outstripped physical album sales and iTunes downloads as the primary way people listen to songs; with this new order comes both a new audience and a revamp of music charts..."


The Abstract Beauty of One Of The World's Harshest Climates. Atlas Obscura has an eye-opening photo essay: "...In these regions—some of the most sparsely populated in the world—it’s essential to be prepared. Otherwise, says photographer Luca Tombolini, “you just aren’t in the condition to photograph because you’re probably thinking about how to save yourself.” Tombolini photographs deserts with an eye for “plays of symmetries and purity.” His large format images show pastel-hued dunes that form sweeping, abstract shapes, and endless horizons under bleached blue skies..."


A 9-Year Old Tripped, Fell and Discovered a Million-Year-Old Fossil. The New York Times has an amazing story: "Jude Sparks was only 9 years old when he made a remarkable paleontological discovery. While out for a walk wiith his family in Las Cruces, N.M., in November, Jude had been running to hide from his younger brothers when he tripped and fell. He found himself face to face with something that, he said, looked like "fossilized wood." "It was just an odd shape," Jude, now 10, said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I just knew it was not something that you usually find." It looked like a massive jaw, and Jude's younger brother Hunter thought it belonged to a cow skull. His parents, Michelle and Kyle Sparks, thought it resembled the remains of an elephant. So they took a picture of the object to investigate further..."

Photo credit: "Jude Sparks sitting beside the fossilized remains of a Stegomastodon." Peter Houde.


Steam Train in China Ignites Coal Mine Particles in the Air. How bad is the air pollution in China that the air catches on fire? Reminds me of the infamous Cuyahoga River catching fire in northeast Ohio back in 1969. Yes, by all means let's abolish the EPA so our air can spontaneously combust! Here's a link to an amazing video clip at theCHIVE.

* Then again, maybe this is all perfectly natural. Check out the (R-rated) Reddit comments. I've never seen anything like this in the USA. Either way coal sure does make for colorful train rides.


83 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities on Friday.

84 F. average high on July 21.

95 F. high on July 21, 2016.

July 22, 1972: Copious amounts of rain fall in parts of Minnesota, with 10.84 inches of rainfall in 24 hours at Ft. Ripley. 14 inches of rain is measured at a farm in Morrison County.



TODAY: Sticky sun, still humid with a T-storm risk. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 88

SATURDAY NIGHT: Drying out, a bit better out there. Low: 65

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, more comfortable. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 79

MONDAY: Bright sun, very little wind. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 81

TUESDAY: Unsettled, few T-storms around. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, seasonably warm. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 84

THURSDAY: T-storms rumble across southern MN. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 66. High: 83

FRIDAY: Blue sky, fairly comfortable. Winds: NE 3-8. Wake-up: 63. High: 84


Climate Stories...

In Miami, Battling Sea Level Rise May Mean Surrendering Land. Reuters explains: "...Mayor Philip Levine, who was elected on his promises to protect Miami Beach from rising waters, says the city will invest even more if necessary in adaptation strategies to protect more than $40 billion worth of properties. But on the other side of Biscayne Bay, in Miami’s Shorecrest neighborhood, a novel idea is taking shape: Instead of trying to keep the water out of the notoriously flood-prone area, officials are considering surrendering some developed land to nature, to accommodate inevitably rising seas. The idea is controversial and expensive, as it involves demolishing properties and moving people and businesses away. But officials say it’s a long-term solution, unlike Miami Beach’s temporary remediation efforts..."

File photo: NOAA.


Gov. Candidate Chris King: Climate Change is Biggest Threat to Florida's Economy. With rising seas (not a climate model, but actual observations of water levels rising) Florida is ground zero for climate change, an issue that may help to sway elections one way or another in the future. Here's an excerpt from Tampa Bay Times: "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King today made his case for how economic growth and fighting climate change go hand in hand. His rivals for the Democratic nomination, Gwen Graham,  Andrew Gillum and possibly Philip Levine, make climate change and environmental protection top priorities too..."


Climate Change Will Be Very Bad for Dallas County. Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and California are additional states already seeing early impacts of a warming climate and/or rising seas. Here's an excerpt from D Magazine in Dallas, Texas: "...A new study led by climate scientists and economists at the University of Chicago and the University of California, published last month in Science, drives that point home. It takes a detailed county-by-county look at how climate change will affect communities across the U.S., finding that Texas and the South are especially vulnerable to projected economic losses caused by global warming, as desirable jobs move to wealthier and cooler climes to the west and north, and an unpredictable climate wreaks havoc on agriculture and industry. (An emboldened mosquito population is another issue.)..."

File photo: D Magazine and Michael Samples.


Glacier National Park Still Has Glaciers, For Now. I want to get out there to see the glaciers ASAP, after reading a story at USA TODAY: "There’s good news and bad news regarding the future of Glacier National Park. The bad news has to do with science. Long-term studies indicate that the famous ice fields that inspired the park’s name are, in fact, shrinking. And, yes, the same research predicts that all 25 named glaciers likely will be gone by 2030. The good news, if you can call it that, is that these large-scale changes are still at least a decade away, and the park has plenty of grandeur to go around until then. Grandeur like blue-green Lake McDonald, which is more than 9 miles long and sits like a mirror in one of the most picturesque valleys of the West. And the knee-buckling vistas at Many Glacier, the heart of the park, from which visitors can spy jagged mountains, those aforementioned glistening glaciers, and (if you’re lucky) abundant wildlife, including moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and grizzly bears..."


Documenting Glaciers in the Dying Days of Ice. Here's an excerpt from a Climate Central Special Report: "National Parks have grown up with photography. So it’s only fitting that in the last days of ice in Montana’s Glacier National Park, Lisa McKeon is using a camera to show how quickly climate change has killed off the park’s namesakes. After all, it’s one thing to note that of the park’s 150 glaciers that existed in the late 1800s, only 25 of them remain today. But it’s another to see what that cold, hard fact looks like on the landscape. For nearly 20 years, McKeon, a U.S. Geological Survey biologist, has prowled dusty archives to find old photos showing the splendor of the park’s glaciers in decades past. Those images have taken her to bushwhacking through the forest and to the highest reaches of the park so she can recreate those images. Put the old and the new images side-by-side and it’s impossible to ignore the visual evidence of how rapidly climate change has eaten away at the ice..."

Photo credit: "Park visitors eating dinner at Cracker Lake, a glacial-fed lake in Glacier National Park's backcountry." Credit: Jacob Frank/National Park Service.


Photo credits: "Blackfoot Glacier and Jackson Glacier in 1914 and 2009. They used to be joined as a single glacier but are now split in two because global warming has melted the ice away." Credit: E.C. Stebinger/Glacier National Park (left). Lisa McKeon/U.S. Geological Survey (right).


Innovate, Award-Winning Way to Visualize CO2 Emissions. Of course, one of the many challenges of talking about a warming blanket of CO2: the gas is clear and odorless - almost invisible, unless you have the right equipment. The Post and Courier explains: "...Featuring in-depth reporting about plankton, sea-rise and coral reefs, the “Every Other Breath” series featured the use of a rare thermal imaging camera to show readers what emissions of carbon dioxide look like from buses, planes and other everyday sources of CO2. The Post and Courier is said to be the first newspaper or magazine to use such a device for a news story..."

Photo credit: "As part of The Post and Courier's Every Other Breath series, the newspaper obtained a one-of-a-kind thermal imaging camera from FLIR to document everyday sources of invisible CO2 emissions."


$7 Trillion/Year to Remove CO2 From the Air? According to climate scientist James Hansen that's the number, if we continue to sit on our hands and kick this down the road a few more decades. Details at Quartz: "The world has been slow to realize the immense financial and human costs of climate change. Would that change if we realized just how much worse it could get? That’s the hope of new research led by James Hansen, a Columbia University professor and former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hansen’s research estimates that if the world were to delay reducing carbon emissions until a later date, it could cost as much as $6.7 trillion per year for at least 80 years after that date to reign in the effect of those emissions on the climate. For comparison, all the countries in the world combined spend about $2 trillion annually on defense. That fact makes “the war on climate change” an apt metaphor..."


Climate Change is Killing Us Right Now. Not as much in the USA, not yet, but the author of a story at New Republic argues that even under a best-case scenario nearly half of humanity will be regularly exposed to potentially deadly levels of heat by 2100: "...These scenarios are supported by the science. “For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” Camilo Mora, a geography professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, told CNN last month. Mora was the lead author of a recent study, published in the journal Nature, showing that deadly heat days are expected to increase across the world. Around 30 percent of the world’population today is exposed to so-called “lethal heat” conditions for at least 20 days a year. If we don’t reduce fossil-fuel emissions, the percentage will skyrocket to 74 percent by the year 2100. Put another way, by the end of the century nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s population will face a high risk of dying from heat exposure for more than three weeks every year..."


Paying People to Not Cut Down Trees Pays Off, Study Finds. Deforestation is another (very) significant source of CO2, since fewer trees means less of a carbon sink available (trees breathe in CO2 and exhale oxygen). Here's an excerpt from InsideClimate News: "Across dozens of villages in rural Uganda, researchers have explored what they believe could be an easy way to help tackle climate change: paying landowners to leave their trees standing. The concept is simple—and controversial, because critics say it can foist the burden of cutting emissions onto developing countries. But the researchers, led by an economist from Northwestern University, found that these financial incentives—or "payments for ecosystems services"—have both a climate and economic benefit, something that had not been firmly established in previous studies..."


Methane Seeps Out as Arctic Permafrost Starts to Resemble Swiss Cheese. Here's the intro to a story at InsideClimate News: "Global warming may be unleashing new sources of heat-trapping methane from layers of oil and gas that have been buried deep beneath Arctic permafrost for millennia. As the Earth's frozen crust thaws, some of that gas appears to be finding new paths to the surface through permafrost that's starting to resemble Swiss cheese in some areas, scientists said. In a study released today, the scientists used aerial sampling of the atmosphere to locate methane sources from permafrost along a 10,000 square-kilometer swath of the Mackenzie River Delta in northwestern Canada, an area known to have oil and gas desposits. Deeply thawed pockets of permafrost, the research suggests, are releasing 17 percent of all the methane measured in the region, even though the emissions hotspots only make up 1 percent of the surface area, the scientists found..."

Image credit: "In parts of northern Canada's Mackenzie River Delta, seen here by satellite, scientists are finding high levels of methane near deeply thawed pockets of permafrost." Credit: NASA Earth Observatory.


Robert Redford: "To Save the World, Start Small". The solutions will be organic, bottom-up, not top-down, dictated more by economics than politics. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Time.com: "...Our choice is no longer the economy vs. the environment. It is now the economy and the environment. Addressing climate change will help both. Ignoring it risks both. This is not a revelation in many of our cities and towns. There, the idea that climate change is “political” is dissolving. If you are the mayor of a coastal town that now floods regularly or a farming town that just experienced several “once-in-a-hundred-years” droughts within a couple years, politics is the furthest thing from your mind. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Mayors are usually our most direct connection to government. They see the immediate ways in which our communities are threatened and reinvented. Fighting climate change can be opportunity for such reinvention..."

Image credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring.


2017 Is So Unexpectedly Warm It Is Freaking Out Climate Scientists. Joe Romm explains why at ThinkProgress: "Normally, the hottest years on record occur when the underlying human-caused global warming trend gets a temporary boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific. So it’s been a surprise to climate scientists that 2017 has been so remarkably warm — because the last El Niño ended a year ago. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Tuesday that the first half of 2017 was the second-warmest January-June on record for Earth, topped only by 2016, which was boosted by one of the biggest El Niños on record..."

Graphic credit: "January–June 2017 global surface temperatures (compared to the 20th century average) in Degrees Celsius." CREDIT: NOAA.


Climate Change Will Force Today's Kids to Pay for Costly Carbon Removal Technologies, Study Says. The Washington Post explains: "The longer humans continue to pour carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the closer we draw to leaving the next generation with an unmanageable climate problem, scientists say. A new study, just out Tuesday in the journal Earth System Dynamics, suggests that merely reducing greenhouse gas emissions may no longer be enough — and that special technology, aimed at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, may also be necessary to keep the Earth’s climate within safe limits for future generations. The research was largely inspired by a landmark climate change lawsuit brought by 21 children against the federal government, which is scheduled to go to trial in February 2018, and will be used as scientific support in the case. In fact, its lead author, Columbia University climatologist and former NASA scientist James Hansen, is a plaintiff on the case, along with his now 18-year-old granddaughter..."

Photo credit: "New research suggests that if immediate and significant emissions reduction efforts are undertaken — amounting to a decline in global carbon output by at least 3 percent annually starting in the next four years — then less carbon extraction will be needed." (Martin Meissner/AP).


Scientist Spreads the Word on Climate Change, by Biking Across America. WTOP NewsRadio in Washington D.C. has the story: "...He recently discussed the book with WTOP’s Shawn Anderson and Hillary Howard, and highlighted some of the moments in which he witnessed the dramatic impact of global warming. In Idaho and Montana, Goodrich rode his bike (and 50 pounds of gear) into wildfire-affected areas. In Kansas, he pedaled through 100-degree heat and punishing hot winds. And across the front range of the Rockies, he saw particularly dramatic evidence of its impact: massive amounts of dead trees caused by the mountain pine beetle. The pest used to be killed off by extreme cold, but “those kinds of winters don’t happen anymore, and the population of this beetle has just exploded,” he said..."

Photo credit: "Goodrich rides on the Hi-Line along U.S. 2 in northern Montana. Glacier National Park can be seen in the distance." (Courtesy David Goodrich).