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Paul Douglas on Weather

Some of the Best Weather of Summer - Damage Update from Brainerd Lakes - Are Derecho/Downburst Winds on the Increase?

Mercifully Quiet

Boredom is a rare and fleeting experience for Minnesota meteorologists. Most days I'm being swatted on the head and kicked in the butt by Mother Nature, so I'm just fine with a stretch of boringly beautiful weather.

Especially since we've picked up 7.32 inches of rain in July; 7th wettest on record. On average we experience 6 days a year with an inch or more of rain in the metro. So far we've picked up 3 days over an inch, all of them in July. St. Cloud has seen 9 separate days of 1-inch-plus rains since mid-May! No drought concerns this year.

And there's growing evidence we're heading into a "Super El Nino"; a dramatic warming of Pacific Ocean water forecast to spill over into spring of 2016. Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground predicts it may be one of the 3 biggest El Nino's in the last 60 years, rivaling 1972, 1982 and 1997. Who cares? Strong El Nino events often result in milder, drier winters for Minnesota. Place your bets.

What's not to like about this week: 80s, a comfortable dew point in the 50s, little chance of thunder until late Sunday, when the next cool front dribbles out of Canada. The worst of the jungle-like heat and T-storms stays south of Minnesota. 


July 12 Storm Damage Clean-up Continues. Thanks to AerisWeather meteorologist Todd Nelson, vacationing up at Craguns Resort on Gull Lake with his family. He sent me these photos on Wednesday, and said "All I can hear is distant chainsaws...huge piles of lumber everywhere!"


Evidence of Microburst Winds at Maddens Resort. State Representative Mark Anderson and his wife Barbara took me out on Gull Lake Sunday to get a first-hand look at the damage in the Brainerd Lakes area. This is the employee housing at Maddens, missing much of the roof, evidence of severe wind damage everywhere. This is in line with Duluth NWS wind estimates of 100 mph in a series of downbursts. Much like a tornado the damage swaths were fickle and spotty, many areas spared, but other pockets of extreme damage, trees snapped like toothpicks. The damage path was linear, no evidence of rotation found in tornadic winds.


Awe-Inspiring. This is one of the photos I shared with the GCOLA, the Gull Chain of Lakes Association Gala event Monday evening up at the Grand View Lodge (which also suffered tree damage, but nothing like the southern end of Gull Lake). I snapped this panorama on my trusty iPhone about 4 miles east of Schaefer's grocery store in Nisswa, just north of Co. 13. It looked like the fist of God came crashing down, snapping trees in a swath maybe half a mile wide, again, consistent with severe downburst or microburst winds.


Poleward Shift in Derecho/Downburst Winds with Warming Climate? In response to a reader's question about frequency of these kinds of damaging, freakish wind storms I asked state climatologist Greg Spoden about trends he's witnessed. Are we imagining an increase, or does the data confirm an increase in these derecho/downburst wind events? Here is what Greg wrote:

"The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center offers an excellent overview of derechos and derecho climatology here. In their section on derechos and climate change they reinforce Paul's comment about a poleward shift in the corridors of maximum derecho frequency." - Greg Spoden, State Climatologist


An Unusually Soggy July. AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser has an interesting blog post focused on the number of days with 1" or more of rain, compared to long-term averages; here's an excerpt: "...As you may have noticed above, both St. Cloud and the Twin Cities saw rain totals of over an inch this morning. So, we break out the 1″+ rain tracker once again today! The Twin Cities is now up to three days this year, all occurring during the month of July, with at least one inch of rain – half way toward the yearly average of six. St. Cloud has now seen nine days this year with at least one inch of rain, one away from matching the number seen during 2014. This also marks the fourth one inch or greater rain this month in St. Cloud..."


More October than July. Check out the stormy swirl pushing from Manitoba into Ontario, low stratus clouds extending into central Minnesota. This type of full latitude storm, deriving strength from strong north-south temperature gradients, would look right at home in late September or October. But late July? A bit odd. This is the low pressure system that whipped up 60 mph+ winds over Montana and North Dakota Tuesday. Satellite loop: WeatherTap.


10% Probability of Tropical Storm Formation. The odds are still quite low, but NOAA NHC is keeping an eye on an area of disturbed weather hovering near Florida, responsible for flooding rains. The atmosphere is still sheared (strong winds aloft, possibly whipped up by a strengthening El Nino event) so the odds of a named storm are small, but not zero.


Puddles Are The Exception, Not The Rule. The best chance of showers and T-storms will set up from Iowa into Wisconsin and the Chicago area this upcoming weekend; we may be brushed by thunder, especially southern Minnesota. The heaviest rains (8-10") over the next 7 days will fall over Florida in response to a temporarily stalled tropical wave.


Welcome Canadian Exhaust. For 6 months out of the year meteorologists mutter about "Canadian Cold Fronts", like some sort of weather-related obscenity. This time of year a cool frontal passage is a welcome event, and northern tier states will get to enjoy a dip in temperature and humidity in the coming days.


Stunted Heat Wave. Long range models continue to keep the epicenter of heat and humidity (and 100 degree plus heat indices) just south of Minnesota and Wisconsin over the next 2 weeks; a series of Canadian cool fronts taking the edge of the dog days close to home. That said, much of America will suffer through prolonged heat, from San Diego and Denver to Dallas and Atlanta, where 100 degree heat indices will be the rule. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


3-Hour Canadian Tornado Likely One Of The World's Longest. I still have trouble believing that this was ONE TORNADO, rather than a series of tornadoes spinning up under the same parent supercell. Then again these days I wouldn't rule anything out. Here's a clip from USA TODAY: "he massive tornado that roared across the Canadian province of Manitoba late Monday was on the ground for nearly 3 hours — likely one of the longest-lasting on record in Canada and perhaps the world. No injuries or deaths were reported. The longest tornado recorded is the infamous Tri-State tornado that lasted for about 3.5 hours, ravaging the Midwest in March 1925 and leaving hundreds of people dead in its wake..."

Frame grab credit above: "A screen grab of Monday's tornado in Manitoba, which was on the ground for nearly 3 hours." (Photo: TVNWeather.com).


"One Of The Top 3 El Nino Events Of The Last 60 Years?" That headline comes from Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground, who has an excellent update on what may be a memorable warm phase for the Pacific, and a possible dent in the epic drought gripping California and much of the west. Here's an excerpt: "We’re now well into the ramp-up phase of what promises to be one of the top three El Niño events of the last 60-plus years. Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Niño3.4 region--an area straddling the eastern tropical Pacific--are the most widely accepted index for the oceanic evolution of El Niño. NOAA announced in its weekly ENSO update on Monday (see PDF) that Niño3.4 SSTs were running 1.6°C degrees above the seasonal average for the week ending Monday. While this is down slightly from a peak of 1.7°C the week before, Michelle L’Heureux reminds us in NOAA’s ENSO Blog that minor weekly variations aren’t worth getting too worked up about..."

Image credit above: "Sea surface temperatures for the week ending July 22 were more than 1°C above average from the eastern tropical Pacific northward through much of the northeast Pacific, with pockets of 2 - 4°C above average evident near the equator. Image credit: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information."


Weather El Nino's Financial Storm. What will a rapidly warming Pacific mean for Minnesota and the rest of the USA? If the past is any guide more storms from California into the southern USA, and a mild bias into much of the winter from the Pacific Northwest and western Canada into the Upper Midwest. In theory - but every El Nino is different. Here's an excerpt from Yahoo News: "...The latest El Niño is slated by some observers to rival the one in 1997–98 as the biggest ever — one that killed an estimated 2,100 globally with a force roughly equivalent to 1 million Hiroshima bombs. It left $33 billion in property damages in its wake. “This could be a big one,” warns a recent report from Brown Brothers Harriman, a financial firm.But predicting exactly what the weather will be is obviously tricky, and El Niño’s impact on the markets is usually quite specific..."


Worldwide Strengthening El Nino Giveth and Taketh Away. My favorite recent headline (it isn't often you see taketh in print these days). El Nino may be a blessing for California within a few months, but for central America: not so much. Here's a snippet of a story at AP: "...Around the world, crops fail in some places, thrive elsewhere. Commercial fishing shifts. More people die of flooding, fewer from freezing. Americans spend less on winter heating. The global economy shifts. "El Nino is not the end of the world so you don't have to hide under the bed. The reality is that in the U.S. an El Nino can be a good thing," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. This El Nino officially started in March and keeps getting stronger. If current trends continue, it should officially be termed a strong El Nino early in August, peak sometime near the end of year and peter out sometime next spring. Meteorologists say it looks like the biggest such event since the fierce El Nino of 1997-1998..."

Image credit above: "Maps of sea surface temperature anomaly in the Pacific Ocean during a strong El Niño (bottom, December 1997). Maps by NOAA Climate.gov, based on data provided by NOAA View"


On Four Continents, Historic Drought Wreaks Havoc. USA TODAY reports; here's the intro: "California's historic drought appears to be matched by severe dry spells on three other continents. Brazil, North Korea and South Africa are bearing the brunt of much lower-than-average precipitation, wreaking havoc on millions of peoples' lives and livelihoods. While the causes vary from country to country, the chance of more intense droughts in the future as a result of man-made climate change is only increasing as regional extremes of precipitation — both more and less — remain likely, according to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change..."

Photo credit above: "Gino Celli, who relies on senior water rights to water his crops, inspects a wheat field nearing harvest on his farm near Stockton, Calif., on May 18, 2015." (Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP).


Exposing The Front Groups Attacking Renewables. Hmmm. Let me think about this - which industry has the most to lose if we start receiving the bulk of our energy from (free) natural, non-polluting sources? It's a tough one. Here's an excerpt from dailykos.com: "Polling this year suggests that 74% of Americans want their state to require a certain amount of renewables like wind and solar as part of their electricity grid. And yet many states are entertaining the idea of rolling back or repealing their renewable energy standards. What would possess state legislators to do something so unpopular? DeSmog's Steve Horn covers a new report by the Energy and Policy Institute that pulls back the curtain on various efforts around the US to repeal or weaken renewable energy policies..."


Earth Will Only Have 12 Hours To Prepare For Massive Solar Storm. Yahoo News UK has this uplifting story - puts the tornadoes and flash floods into perspective. Here's a clip: "Trains will be disrupted, power will go out, satellite signals will go wonky - that’s what we have to look forward to when the sun next has a melt down, and we’re unlikely to get more than 12 hours warning. In a new government document, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has laid out its Space Weather Preparedness Strategy, outlining the risks of unsettled space weather as well as what it plans to do about them..."


How To Stay Safe When The Big One Comes. Here's a follow-up to the recent (terrifying) piece in the New Yorker focused on the probability of a monster 9.0+ earthquake impacting the Pacific Northwest. This (new) New Yorker article puts the threat into better focus and context and provides advice on steps residents can take to lower their risk; here's an excerpt: "...So a better analogy than toast is this: the Cascadia earthquake is going to hit the Pacific Northwest like a rock hitting safety glass, shattering the region into thousands of tiny areas, each isolated from one another and all extremely difficult to reach. That’s why Murphy’s plan involves, in his words, “leasing, buying, or stealing any helicopter I can get my hands on.” Helicopters can’t do everything, but they can, at least, get almost anywhere. (FEMA has also made arrangements with the U.S. Navy Third Fleet to conduct a massive sea-lift operation for those stranded on the coast—but, for logistical reasons, it will take the fleet seven days from the time of the quake to arrive.)..."


Elon Musk And Stephen Hawking Among Hundreds to Urge Ban on Military Robots. Here's the intro to a New York Times story: "Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, along with hundreds of artificial intelligence researchers and experts, are calling for a worldwide ban on so-called autonomous weapons, warning that they could set off a revolution in weaponry comparable to gunpowder and nuclear arms. In a letter unveiled as researchers gathered at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires on Monday, the signatories argued that the deployment of robots capable of killing while untethered to human operators is “feasible within years, not decades...”


Divers Find Giant Floating Blob - Have No Idea What It Is. Here's a snippet of a curious piece at Huffington Post: "...As Tanriover’s mesmerizing video went viral earlier this month, the Internet leapt at the chance to solve the mystery. Christopher Mah of The Echinoblog ended up being the first to the plate. Mah said in a tweet that Dr. Michael Vecchione, a squid expert and scientist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, had come up with a possible answer. The blob, Vecchione said, was likely an enormous squid egg mass -- the “largest” he’s ever seen..."


Kentucy Man Shoots Down Drone Hovering Over His Backyard. Do you own the airspace above your home? Lawyers will have a field day with this one; here's the intro to a story at Ars Technica: "The way William Merideth sees it, it’s pretty clear-cut: a drone flying over his backyard was a well-defined invasion of privacy, analogous to a physical trespassing. Not knowing who owned it, the Kentucky man took out his shotgun and fired three blasts of Number 8 birdshot to take the drone out. "It was just right there," he told Ars. "It was hovering, I would never have shot it if it was flying. When he came down with a video camera right over my back deck, that's not going to work..." (Photo: William H. Merideth).


Moss-Viewing Trips Catching On Among Women. Personally I prefer watching paint dry but I should give this a chance. We can only hope this catches on here - beats hanging out at the mall. Here's an excerpt from Japan Times: "One day in June, a group of 17 people, mostly women wearing colorful outfits, got together at a scenic lakeside area at the foot of Mount Kita-Yatsugatake in Nagano Prefecture. Instead of using binoculars to look at the panorama around them, these people were gazing downward with the aid of a loupe, sometimes crawling around on their hands and knees. They were captivated by the colonies of moss growing in the area, known as a “green carpet...”

Photo credit above: "During an observation workshop held in June, participants observe moss growing beside a trail in the Kita-Yatsugatake mountain range in Nagano Prefecture." | KYODO.


Buffalo Snow Pile Refuses to Melt Eight Months After Snowstorm. I'm feeling even better about living in Minnesota, where our snow piles melted back in April, as I recall. Here's an excerpt from Yahoo News: "The sun is shining, swimming pools are open and there’s still a giant snow pile in New York. The calendar says it’s almost August, but an estimated 12-feet-tall snow pile still lingers in Buffalo, New York from a snow storm eight months ago. “The original problem started back in November,” New York state climatologist Mark Wysocki told ABC News today. “The city had no place to put the snow, so they found a vacant lot and starting bringing in dump trucks full of snow..."

Image credit above: "Buffalo Snow Pile Refuses to Melt Eight Months After Snowstorm." (ABC News)


82 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

83 F. average high on July 29.

81 F. high temperature on July 29, 2014.

July 30, 1971: Cool spell across Minnesota with frost in north and freezing temperatures reported as far south as Pipestone.


TODAY: Spectacularly sunny with a refreshing breeze. Dew point: 56. Winds: NW 15+ High: 85

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clear, still very comfortable. Low: 63

FRIDAY: Sunny, low humidity. Very nice. High: 83

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, mostly-dry. W 10. Wake-up: 65. High: 84

SUNDAY: Hazy sun, few T-storms late. Wake-up: 67. High: 85

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, cooler & less humid. Wake-up: 63. High: 80

TUESDAY: Blue sky, light winds. Wake-up: 65. High: 82

WEDNESDAY: Few showers and T-storms. Wake-up: 63. High: near 80


Climate Stories....

Defense Department to Congress: Global Warming is a "Present Security Threat". My youngest son flies helicopters for the Navy - I can tell you for the fact that the U.S. Navy is taking climate change, climate volatility and rising seas very seriously. Andrew Freedman at Mashable has the story - here are a few snippets that got my full undivided attention: "For the first time, the U.S. Department of Defense has detailed what it views as its greatest challenges related to climate change. In a report to Congress, the Defense Department said that global warming poses a "present security threat, not strictly a long-term risk." The report, delivered to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday and publicly released Wednesday, further stated the Defense Department is "already observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities," including in the United States, the Arctic, Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America.....Studies published in June found that humanity is rapidly depleting a third of the world's largest groundwater aquifers, with the top three most stressed groundwater basins in the political hotspots of the Middle East, the border region between India and Pakistan, and the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa..."

Photo credit above: "Thick smoke and flames from an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition rise in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014." Image: Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press.

The full report from the Defense Department is at defense.gov. See also: Global warming helped trigger Syria's civil war.


Climate Change Will Cause Increased Flooding in Coastal Cities. Here's an excerpt from Forbes: "...Another paper, published yesterday in Nature, had less fanfare than the Hansen paper, but shows the severe danger of flooding in coastal regions, particularly in the United States. This risk isn’t directly from sea-level rise, but from the intensification of storm surges and increased precipitation that are secondary effects of climate change. Flooding risk in any particular place depends on a number of factors: the flatness of land right by the water, how steep the continental shelf is off the coast, the number and severity of storms, etc. That’s why much of the state of Florida is at greater risk than coastal cities in California. As the Nature paper shows, heavier rainfall combines with storm surges, the rush of water toward the shore during major storms, to amplify flooding..."

Image credit above: "Florida as seen from the Space Shuttle in 1998. Flooding from climate change is threatening much of the coastline, including major cities in Florida." (Credit: NASA)


Get Ready for Ugly As Markets Begin To Deal With Climate Crisis. Here's an excerpt of a story at EcoWatch that made me do a double-take: "Advocates of “market-based” climate solutions paint pastel pictures reflecting smoothly adjusting macro-economic models. Competitive markets gradually nudged by carbon pricing glide into a low carbon future in a modestly disruptive fashion, much as sulfur pollution from power plants was scaled back in the 1990’s. But commodity markets for oil and gas don’t work that way. These real markets are poised to savagely strand assets, upset expectations, overturn long established livelihoods and leave a trail of wreckage behind them—unless climate advocates start owning the fruits of their own success and preparing for the transition. Schumpeter’s destructive engine of capitalism is about to show its ugly side..." (File photo: Shutterstock).


Washington D.C. Sinking Fast - Adding To Threat of Sea-Level Rise. Here's an excerpt from phys.org: "New research confirms that the land under the Chesapeake Bay is sinking rapidly and projects that Washington D.C. could drop by six or more inches in the next century - adding to the problems of sea-level rise. This falling land will exacerbate the flooding that the nation's capital faces from rising ocean waters due to a warming climate and melting ice sheets - accelerating the threat to the region's monuments, roads, wildlife refuges and military installations. For sixty years, tide gauges have shown that sea level in the Chesapeake is rising at twice the global average rate and faster than elsewhere on the East Coast..."

* The paper from geosociety.org is here.


Wall Street Heavy Hitters Warn About Climate Change. Moving to Florida? Rent, don't buy, especially if you're considering coastal property. Here's an excerpt of a story at Florida Today: "A group of billionaires and former statesmen issued a dire warning Tuesday about the economic and health risks posed by global warming. Climate change could put up to $23 billion in Florida property underwater by 2050 and cause several thousands more residents to die annually from heat stroke, according to a report backed by former Wall Street titans and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Their proposed fix: put a price on carbon..."


Op-Ed: Carbon Pollution A Threat To National Security. Here's a snippet of an editorial at The York Dispatch that caught my attention: "...One thing is certain, the fossil fuels industry in the U.S. is allowed to extract massive amounts of fossil fuels and release the carbon pollution contained within at no cost to them. The planet (and society) will continue to shoulder the economic, ecological and human costs of carbon pollution. These costs will continue to grow and our security will continue to deteriorate as our civilization, which has risen during a time of climate stability, is forced to deal with an increasingly unstable climate. Adding these costs to the price of fossil fuels will send a signal to the market and spur investment in clean, carbon-free sources of energy and reduce the risks to our national security." (File photo: AP).


Tick Populations Booming Due To Climate Change. The Guardian has the unpleasant details; here's a snippet of a recent article: "...Clearly ticks are expanding farther north,” she said. “[W]e’re finding a lot of tick species moving into new areas. And a lot of that has to do potentially with climate change [and] animal husbandry practices if we’re cutting forests or recreating grasslands... So as a whole ticks themselves are really becoming an emerging problem, not that they always weren’t anyway, but they are getting worse.” Foley said the expansion of their range has brought them into Canada, and she called some of them “very, very aggressive human biters” that can potentially transmit disease..."

Photo credit above: "Ticks can spread infectious diseases such as Lyme disease and and Rocky Mountain spotted fever." Photograph: Rasmus Holmboe Dahl/Alamy.


2015 Arctic Melting Season Won't Break Records, But Could Wipe the "Recovery". Here's an excerpt from a Guardian story authored by St. Thomas professor John Abraham: "...If this weather keeps up – and according to the current forecasts, it will for at least another week – that thicker multi-year ice could receive such a beating that the slight rebound from record low levels is essentially wiped out by the time winter sets in again. On top of that, it looks highly probable that both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route open up again simultaneously, a previously rare, but now frequent event. Last week a research paper was published showing how Arctic sea ice volume had rebounded after the crash of 2012. It’s too early tell, but if this rebound does get wiped out, the Arctic will remain poised for larger losses, as soon as conditions are right for large-scale melting..."

Image credit above: "Arctic sea ice age distribution map in spring 2012 vs 2015." Source: University of Colorado.


The Climate Question That Should Be Asked in the Upcoming Presidential Debates. Here's a clip from Huffington Post: "...First is the preferred question, followed by a few weasel-word alternatives.

Preferred climate question

Accepting as a given the overwhelming scientific agreement that humans are changing the climate of the planet, what policies or strategies, if any, would you support to address this issue?

Weasel-word climate question #1

Do you understand that there is overwhelming scientific agreement that humans are changing the climate? If not, why not?..."


Rocky Mountain Resorts Race To Defend Businesses Against Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Los Angeles Times: "...Perl, who was hired two years ago as Aspen's climate action manager, is among the leaders of a multilayered and often unified effort among resort towns to try to slow and defend against climate change while adapting economically to a world in which snow falls less predictably and summer tourism becomes increasingly important. "From my perspective, we've got 20 years of good winters that are highly likely," said Matt Abbott, environmental project manager for Park City, a ski resort about 30 miles east of Salt Lake City. "Beyond that, where are we at?" Some mountain resort towns are lobbying in Washington to discourage the mining of coal, a key culprit in climate change, and to urge more wildfire prevention..."

File photo above: "This is a file photograph near Keystone, Colo., on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008, that shows the damage done to a pine tree by pine beetles behind an aspen tree in fall foilage. Trees in old growth forests across the West are dying at a small, but increasing rate that scientists conclude is probably caused by longer and hotter summers from a changing climate." (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

This falling land will exacerbate the flooding that the nation's capital faces from rising ocean waters due to a warming climate and melting ice sheets—accelerating the threat to the region's monuments, roads, wildlife refuges, and military installations.

For sixty years, tide gauges have shown that sea level in the Chesapeake is rising at twice the global average rate and faster than elsewhere on the East Coast.



Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-07-washington-dc-fast-adding-threat.html#jCp

Disastrous Sea Level Rise Is An Issue For Today's Public - Not Next Millenimum's. Dr. James Hansen has an Op-Ed at Huffington Post regarding his new and controversial paper. Here's an excerpt: "...Our simulations were aimed to test my suspicion that ice sheet disintegration is a very nonlinear phenomena and that the IPCC studies were largely omitting what may be the most important forcing of the ocean: the effect of cold freshwater from melting ice. Rather than use an ice sheet model to estimate rates of freshwater release, we use observations for the present ice melt rate and specify several alternative rates of increase of ice melt. Our atmosphere-ocean model shows that the freshwater spurs amplifying feedbacks that would accelerate ice shelf and ice sheet mass loss, thus providing support for our assumption of a nonlinear ice sheet response..."


James Hansen Spells Out Climate Danger Of The "Hyper-Anthropocene" Age. Here's more perspective on the new paper at ThinkProgress: "Hansen and co-authors deftly dismiss those ill-informed Pollyannas who use Orwellian terms like “good Anthropocene.” They explain that we are far past “the era in which humans have contributed to global climate change,” which probably began a thousand years ago, and are now in “a fundamentally different phase, a Hyper-Anthropocene … initiated by explosive 20th century growth of fossil fuel use.” The “Hyper-Anthropocene” is a very good term to describe the unprecedented acceleration in global warming that humanity has set in motion with the explosive growth of fossil fuels and carbon pollution, as the recent science makes clear.."

Graphic credit above: "Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature)."


Atlantis Awaits: Melting Ice and Rising Water for Coastal Cities. Alarmist hype? I sure hope so, but so far Dr. Hansen's predictions have been pretty much on target. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Baltimore Sun: "...But despite their many blessings, the Earth's oceans are becoming a curse. By burning fossil fuel, we have already begun to unleash the vast quantities of water locked up in glaciers as ice. That melt has already begun raising sea levels, which are, as revealed by our most recent research, preparing for an invasion of our coastal communities the likes of which modern humans have never encountered. To say that we're not ready for this oceanic assault would be an understatement. Our international goal for limiting warming won't be enough to hold the waters back. Even if we meet the target goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we will have already released enough CO2 to drive a dangerous amount of melting. Without concerted efforts to tackle climate change, we are condemning our biggest, most prosperous and populated cities to an underwater existence..."


Alaska's Terrifying Wildfire Season And What It Says About Climate Change. Here's a snippet from a Chris Mooney story at The Washington Post: "...The staggering 2015 Alaska wildfire season may soon be the state’s worst ever, with almost 5 million acres already burned — an area larger than Connecticut. The pace of the burn has moderated in the last week, but scientists say the fires are just the latest indicator of a climatic transformation that is remaking this state — its forests, its coasts, its glaciers, and perhaps most of all, the frozen ground beneath — more than any other in America..."

Photo credit above: Washington Post photo by Marc Lester.

7.32" - 7th Wettest July on Record. Quiet Spell into Saturday - Monster El Nino Brewing?

No Complaints

We've gotten off easy this summer with heat and humidity - compared to much of the northern hemisphere we've gotten a free ride. Rome and Madrid have been broiling above 100F; record heat as far north as the Netherlands, with rare tornadoes skipping across Norway and Sweden.

My Aunt Sigrid is a psychologist in Freiburg, Germany. The only A/C is in her car; she's been cooling off by driving a few hours every day with the A/C blasting cold air. Most Europeans don't have air conditioning in their homes, in fact many of them wonder why Americans keep their homes as cold as meat lockers.

Hey, if it wasn't for A/C Florida would still be swampland - Arizona might still belong to Mexico. Just saying.

Tuesday morning's 1 to 2 inch downpour came at the right time for corn tassling; another epic harvest is shaping up for 2015. Much of the corn belt is in unusually good shape; drought-free, no flooding or hail, which (ironically) is depressing prices. Can the weather be "too nice"? Expect a fresh breeze today; comfortable 80s into the weekend with the next chance of a renegade thunder clap Saturday night.

No extreme heat is brewing, just a handful of almost-perfect, drama-free days.


Photo credit above: "A man refreshes himself at the fountain called "Barcaccia", made by Pietro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenzo in 1627, at the Spanish steps, in Rome, Thursday, July 16, 2015. Europe's heat wave has pushed the mercury to levels as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit)." (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)


"One Of The Top 3 El Nino Events Of The Last 60 Years?" That headline comes from Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground, who has an excellent update on what may be a memorable warm phase for the Pacific, and a possible dent in the epic drought gripping California and much of the west. Here's an excerpt: "We’re now well into the ramp-up phase of what promises to be one of the top three El Niño events of the last 60-plus years. Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Niño3.4 region--an area straddling the eastern tropical Pacific--are the most widely accepted index for the oceanic evolution of El Niño. NOAA announced in its weekly ENSO update on Monday (see PDF) that Niño3.4 SSTs were running 1.6°C degrees above the seasonal average for the week ending Monday. While this is down slightly from a peak of 1.7°C the week before, Michelle L’Heureux reminds us in NOAA’s ENSO Blog that minor weekly variations aren’t worth getting too worked up about..."

Image credit above: "Sea surface temperatures for the week ending July 22 were more than 1°C above average from the eastern tropical Pacific northward through much of the northeast Pacific, with pockets of 2 - 4°C above average evident near the equator. Image credit: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information."


Weather El Nino's Financial Storm. What will a rapidly warming Pacific mean for Minnesota and the rest of the USA? If the past is any guide more storms from California into the southern USA, and a mild bias into much of the winter from the Pacific Northwest and western Canada into the Upper Midwest. In theory - but every El Nino is different. Here's an excerpt from Yahoo News: "...The latest El Niño is slated by some observers to rival the one in 1997–98 as the biggest ever — one that killed an estimated 2,100 globally with a force roughly equivalent to 1 million Hiroshima bombs. It left $33 billion in property damages in its wake. “This could be a big one,” warns a recent report from Brown Brothers Harriman, a financial firm.But predicting exactly what the weather will be is obviously tricky, and El Niño’s impact on the markets is usually quite specific..."


Worldwide Strengthening El Nino Giveth and Taketh Away. My favorite recent headline (it isn't often you see taketh in print these days). El Nino may be a blessing for California within a few months, but for central America: not so much. Here's a snippet of a story at AP: "...Around the world, crops fail in some places, thrive elsewhere. Commercial fishing shifts. More people die of flooding, fewer from freezing. Americans spend less on winter heating. The global economy shifts. "El Nino is not the end of the world so you don't have to hide under the bed. The reality is that in the U.S. an El Nino can be a good thing," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. This El Nino officially started in March and keeps getting stronger. If current trends continue, it should officially be termed a strong El Nino early in August, peak sometime near the end of year and peter out sometime next spring. Meteorologists say it looks like the biggest such event since the fierce El Nino of 1997-1998..."

Image credit above: "Maps of sea surface temperature anomaly in the Pacific Ocean during a strong El Niño (bottom, December 1997). Maps by NOAA Climate.gov, based on data provided by NOAA View"


Freezing Offices Result in Freezing Women, Oblivious Men. Easy with the A/C, according to a story at The Kansas City Star; here's an excerpt: "...Frozen workers make more errors and are less productive, according to Alan Hedge, professor of design and environmental analysis and director of Cornell’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory, who studied office temperatures about a decade ago. Researchers had their hands on the controls at an insurance office for a month. And when they warmed the place from 68 to 77 degrees, typos went down by 44 percent and productivity went up by 150 percent..."


Comfortable Front. All the various models show dew points dropping into the 50s today, a breath of fresh, Canadian air. Dew points rise above 60F by the weekend, humid, but not unbearable. Source: Iowa State.


Dry Spell. European guidance may be running a couple degrees too cool, but I think it has the right idea with precipitation, or rather a lack of puddles into the weekend; temperatures fairly close to average for late July. Today will be the windiest day in sight with a few gusts over 25 mph, but winds slacken off as the week goes on. Source: Weatherspark.


Florida Soaking - Relatively Quiet for Minnesota. You can see the powerful (unusual) storm that whipped up 60 mph winds over Montana and North Dakota yesterday, a tight pressure gradient pulling cooler, drier air into Minnesota today, in fact it should feel downright comfortable out there. Florida may wind up with some 5-7" rainfall amounts by the end of the week; a low probability of a tropical disturbance forming from this system in the days to come. 84-hour NAM guidance: NOAA.


Sizzling Air Stays South. Enough cool air is forecast to drain southward out of Canada to take the edge off any hot fronts from the Dakotas and Minnesota into the Great Lakes and New England, while the rest of the USA continues to fry. Moderately warm, temperatures close to average for Minnesota, but no beastly-heat in sight. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/article28609519.html#storylink=cpy

Manitoba Tornado Lasted Incredible 2.5 to 3 Hours: Environment Canada. This may have been multiple tornadoes dropping out of the same supercell. If it's really one tornado for nearly 3 hours that would be remarkable, almost historic. Globalnews.ca has the story; here's the intro: "A large tornado that developed in southwestern Manitoba at 8:30 p.m. Monday stayed on the ground for an “incredible” 2.5 to 3 hours, an Environment Canada weather statement says. The large tornado developed just north of Pierson, Man., at 8:30 p.m. CT and tracked 80 kilometres north, with the last report of it coming from north of Virden, Man., at around 11 p.m..."


Dominator 3 Intercepts Monster Tornado in Canada. Here is more background (and remarkable video) of Reed Timmer's intercept at AccuWeather: "Reed Timmer and his team chased this massive tornado in southwestern Manitoba, Canada, on July 27. The tornado ripped up pavement and tossed debris with winds measuring 122 mph."

* The Weather Channel has more video of the Manitoba, Canada tornado intercept here.


Alaska's 2015 Wildfire Season May Be The Worst on Record. Here's an excerpt and caption from a pictorial review at The Washington Post: "Almost 5 million acres have burned, and scientists say the blazes are the latest sign of a region transformed. Woods burned by the Aggie Creek Fire, about 30 miles northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska, and a portion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System are visible from a highway." Marc Lester/For The Washington Post.


Record Heat Grips Much of Europe. Here's a snippet of an update from The Guardian: "...For now the extreme heat has returned to its more normal habitat, confining itself to north Africa and southern parts of the Mediterranean but over the past weeks long standing temperature records have been tumbling across Europe. Germany’s all-time highest temperature record was broken on 5 July with 40.3C in Bavaria, and in the Netherlands, Maastricht set a new national record for July of 38.2C. Spain set new record temperatures for both May and June, and this month Geneva recorded the highest ever temperature in Switzerland north of the Alps, with 39.7C..."


On Four Continents, Historic Drought Wreaks Havoc. USA TODAY reports; here's the intro: "California's historic drought appears to be matched by severe dry spells on three other continents. Brazil, North Korea and South Africa are bearing the brunt of much lower-than-average precipitation, wreaking havoc on millions of peoples' lives and livelihoods. While the causes vary from country to country, the chance of more intense droughts in the future as a result of man-made climate change is only increasing as regional extremes of precipitation — both more and less — remain likely, according to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change..."

Photo credit above: "Gino Celli, who relies on senior water rights to water his crops, inspects a wheat field nearing harvest on his farm near Stockton, Calif., on May 18, 2015." (Photo: Rich Pedroncelli, AP).


Rain, Storm Surge Combine To Put U.S. Coasts at Risk. Climate Central takes a look at how two different forms of flooding can combine to create a much more dangerous scenario, one that appears to be popping up with greater frequency along the U.S. coastline. Here's an excerpt: "...He and his colleagues combed through historical data to see if there was a relationship between heavy precipitation events and storm surge for locations all along the coasts. They found substantial portions of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts where the two factors were linked, and also found that compound flooding events were happening more often now than in the past at many locations. The main idea of the study, detailed July 27 in Nature Climate Change, was to “raise awareness that those kinds of events exist” and are dangerous, Wahl said. So far, “we have pretty much ignored them...”

Image credit above: "This schematic shows how the coincident occurrence of precipitation and storm surge (large enough to cause direct flooding or to slow down or fully block freshwater drainage) can lead to compound flooding in coastal regions." Credit: Theodore Scontras/University of Maine.


U.S. Flood Risk Could Be Worse Than We Thought. A tropical system, even a powerful coastal storm can do just that, increase the surge from the sea while increasing inland flooding from excessive rainfall amounts in a short period of time. Here's a clip from a story at TIME: "...In the past, disaster experts have used analyzed storm surges and high rainfall separately to define flood zones and devise preparedness plans. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that this method underestimates the risk of storm surges and high rainfall occurring at the same time. The number of these so-called compound events has increased over the past 100 years, researchers found..."


This $15,000 Drone Could Save You From a Hurricane. Here's a clip from an interesting explainer at PalmBeachPost.com: "...There’s a drone for just about everything these days from delivering pizzas to going to war, but a new unmanned aerial vehicle may save your life from a looming hurricane. The 13-pound Coyote drone developed by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will fly into parts of a tropical cyclone that no manned aircraft would dare go. Skimming the surface of the ocean, the drone will collect data on sea temperature and air pressure in an area of the storm that has largely been invisible to forecasters in the past..."

Photo credit above: "Paul Reasor, a NOAA hurricane researcher, holds Coyote drone in this 2014 photo." Courtesy: NOAA.


Earth Could Get Just 12 Hours' Warning of a Damaging Solar Storm. Here's a cheery thought - we've been lucky, to date, at least in recent years. At some point, statistically, our luck runs out. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "Humanity would only have a 12-hour warning about the arrival of a “coronal mass ejection” that could damage the National Grid, pipelines and railway signals, according to a newly released document from the UK Cabinet Office. In a report worthy of a Bruce Willis film, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has set out the nature of the risk to the UK from “severe space weather”, which it says results from various types of solar activity..."

Image credit above: "NASA captured this image of a solar flare in 2014. The strongest recorded incident of coronal mass ejection dates back to 1859." Photograph: Rex/Nasa


Stagnant Summer Days On The Rise in U.S. Not as big a deal in Minnesota and the northern tier states, as Climate Central reports; here's an excerpt: "...Climate Central looked at how the number of summer “stagnation days” for cities across the U.S. had changed since 1973 using the National Centers for Environmental Information’s Air Stagnation Index. The ASI uses a combination of upper air wind, surface wind and precipitation data to determine days when conditions are ripe for pollutants to build up in the air. The analysis found that stagnation days had increased across much of the country, most noticeably in the Southwest and Southeast..."


Elon Musk And Stephen Hawking Among Hundreds to Urge Ban on Military Robots. Here's the intro to a New York Times story: "Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, along with hundreds of artificial intelligence researchers and experts, are calling for a worldwide ban on so-called autonomous weapons, warning that they could set off a revolution in weaponry comparable to gunpowder and nuclear arms. In a letter unveiled as researchers gathered at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires on Monday, the signatories argued that the deployment of robots capable of killing while untethered to human operators is “feasible within years, not decades...”



84 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.

83 F. average high on July 28.

77 F. high on July 28, 2014.

1.29" rain fell at MSP International Airport Tuesday.

July 29, 1917: Hottest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota with 114.5 degrees at Beardsley.

July 29, 1849: Severe storms between 3 and 5 AM at the newly constructed post of Ft. Ripley. W.J. Frazier, Head Surgeon noted: "Rain and hail with much thunder and lightning and very high winds breaking many trees."


TODAY: Partly sunny, windy. Dew point: 54. Winds: W 20+ High: 82

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortable. Low: 62

THURSDAY: Bright sun, fresh breeze. Winds: NW 15. High: 83

FRIDAY: Warm sunshine, less wind. Wake-up: 66. High: 86

SATURDAY: Sticky sun, T-storm late? Wake-up: 67. High: 87

SUNDAY: Plenty of warm sunshine. Wake-up: 66. High: 84

MONDAY: More clouds, cooler. Few showers. Wake-up: 64. High: 77

TUESDAY: Sunny and relatively comfortable. Wake-up: 59. high: 79


Climate Stories....
 

Alaska's Terrifying Wildfire Season And What It Says About Climate Change. Here's a snippet from a Chris Mooney story at The Washington Post: "...The staggering 2015 Alaska wildfire season may soon be the state’s worst ever, with almost 5 million acres already burned — an area larger than Connecticut. The pace of the burn has moderated in the last week, but scientists say the fires are just the latest indicator of a climatic transformation that is remaking this state — its forests, its coasts, its glaciers, and perhaps most of all, the frozen ground beneath — more than any other in America..."

Photo credit above: Washington Post photo by Marc Lester.


Disastrous Sea Level Rise Is An Issue For Today's Public - Not Next Millenimum's. Dr. James Hansen has an Op-Ed at Huffington Post regarding his new and controversial paper. Here's an excerpt: "...Our simulations were aimed to test my suspicion that ice sheet disintegration is a very nonlinear phenomena and that the IPCC studies were largely omitting what may be the most important forcing of the ocean: the effect of cold freshwater from melting ice. Rather than use an ice sheet model to estimate rates of freshwater release, we use observations for the present ice melt rate and specify several alternative rates of increase of ice melt. Our atmosphere-ocean model shows that the freshwater spurs amplifying feedbacks that would accelerate ice shelf and ice sheet mass loss, thus providing support for our assumption of a nonlinear ice sheet response..."


James Hansen Spells Out Climate Danger Of The "Hyper-Anthropocene" Age. Here's more perspective on the new paper at ThinkProgress: "Hansen and co-authors deftly dismiss those ill-informed Pollyannas who use Orwellian terms like “good Anthropocene.” They explain that we are far past “the era in which humans have contributed to global climate change,” which probably began a thousand years ago, and are now in “a fundamentally different phase, a Hyper-Anthropocene … initiated by explosive 20th century growth of fossil fuel use.” The “Hyper-Anthropocene” is a very good term to describe the unprecedented acceleration in global warming that humanity has set in motion with the explosive growth of fossil fuels and carbon pollution, as the recent science makes clear.."

Graphic credit above: "Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature)."


Atlantis Awaits: Melting Ice and Rising Water for Coastal Cities. Alarmist hype? I sure hope so, but so far Dr. Hansen's predictions have been pretty much on target. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Baltimore Sun: "...But despite their many blessings, the Earth's oceans are becoming a curse. By burning fossil fuel, we have already begun to unleash the vast quantities of water locked up in glaciers as ice. That melt has already begun raising sea levels, which are, as revealed by our most recent research, preparing for an invasion of our coastal communities the likes of which modern humans have never encountered. To say that we're not ready for this oceanic assault would be an understatement. Our international goal for limiting warming won't be enough to hold the waters back. Even if we meet the target goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we will have already released enough CO2 to drive a dangerous amount of melting. Without concerted efforts to tackle climate change, we are condemning our biggest, most prosperous and populated cities to an underwater existence..."

Image credit: flewdesigns.


Florida Leads Nation in Property At Risk from Climate Change. South Florida is ground zero. Here's an excerpt from The Miami Herald: "...Florida has more private property at risk from flooding linked to climate change than any other state, an amount that could double in the next four decades, according to a new report by the Risky Business Project. By 2030, $69 billion in coastal property in Florida could flood at high tide that is not at risk today, the report found. That amount is projected to climb to $152 billion by 2050..."

Photo credit above: "Under climate change projections, rising sea levels could make storm surge during hurricanes worse. A new study projects the amount of private property on Florida coasts that floods at high tide could climate by $69 billion by 2030." Marsha Halper - Miami Herald Staff.


Texas Facing Major Climate Change Impacts. More fall-out from the latest "Risky Business" report, highlighted at the Texas Tribune; here's the intro: "Texas probably will see a sharp increase in heat-related deaths and coastal storm-related losses in the coming decades if nothing is done to mitigate a changing climate, according to a new study commissioned by a bipartisan group of prominent policymakers and company executives aiming to spawn concern – and action – in the business community over the much-debated warming trend..."

* The "Risky Business" report for the southeastern USA and Texas is here.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article29029159.html#storylink=cpy

Quest For Climate-Proof Farms. How do we build more resilience into agriculture?  Nature has an interesting story - here's an excerpt: "...Martin Schönhart, an agro-economist at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, presented preliminary forecasts for average agricultural yields in 2040. Some crops and fruit benefited from the amount of warming expected. But the yields of other crops — including maize — decreased by up to 20% because changes in precipitation and extreme weather events wiped out the benefits brought by warmer temperatures..."


Fossil Fuel Companies Impose More in Climate Costs Than They Make in Profits. Dave Roberts at Vox has an interesting perspective; here's an excerpt: "...People sometimes refer to the unpaid cost of carbon pollution as a subsidy, or an "implicit subsidy," to polluting businesses. The IMF recently issued a report saying that total worldwide subsidies to energy, mainly fossil fuel energy, amounted to $5.2 trillion a year. The reason that number is so high is that the IMF includes implicit subsidies — the social costs imposed by businesses (including climate damages) that they don't have to pay for. Vox's Brad Plumer raised some questions about whether that's a misleading use of the term "subsidy." Whatever you call it, though, it makes for an unsustainable situation, literally. It can't go on..."


Some In Christian Right Embracing Environmental Causes. It's a trend, not a fad. Here's an excerpt from Standard Examiner: "...Christian belief and the environmental movement can work hand-in-hand, some faith communities say, but first believers need to separate out the politics. When it comes to climate change and natural resource protections, local political dialogue has grown more at odds with Christian belief in being “responsible stewards.” That rhetoric often strikes a chord with a small but growing minority within the Christian right, and some religious leaders are speaking out..."

AP file photo credit: "A May 28, 2013 file photo shows a hiker taking a photo on a rock formation known as The Wave in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona."


Cornering The Deniers on Climate Change. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at New Jersey's Star-Ledger: "...A 2013 study found that many species will have to evolve 10,000 times faster than they have in the past to keep up with the Earth's current pace of warming. So let this be a warning: if we don't slow this dangerous trend, we could all end up like the woolly mammoth. The climate deniers are gradually being cornered. It's sad that it took this long, and we didn't heed the scientific advice to curb global carbon emissions decades ago. But the hard evidence continues to pile up. It should light a fire under the debate leading up to December's Paris conference on climate change. So should the Pope's call for climate action..."


Heed Pope Francis' Moral Clarity on Climate Change. Here's a clip from a recent Op-Ed by the Star Tribune's Editorial Board: "...The “we” were mostly mayors whose cities can lead. “Cities are the most important place to go for solutions around climate change because cities are also places that have factors that most significantly contribute to climate challenges, but also are a source of innovation to respond to those challenges as well,” Hodges said. The Vatican’s message, with its moral clarity and acknowledgment of accepted science, is a galvanizing event. Yet U.S. policy changes happen through the political process, meaning that for real progress more Republicans will need to heed the conservative principle that the planet must be protected..." (File photo: AP).