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Canadian Reprieve - Record Wet July For Much of Midwest

Canadian Payback

Mea culpa.

Roughly 7 months out of the year the term "Canadian cold front" is a pejorative, a negative, cringe-worthy expletive. "Canada exports wheat, oil, hockey players and cold fronts!" But give credit where credit is due: much of America is broiling; tens of millions of our brethren wilting under a heat index above 100F. But a persistent west/northwest jet stream wind flow aloft has allowed a conga-line of (refreshing, wondrous!) Canadian cool fronts to burp south of the border, taking the edge off the heat from St. Paul to Detroit and Boston.

I'm sending a Hallmark thank you note to Canada for the comfortable, sun-scrubbed sky outside my window. A/C optional? Highly unusual for late July.

Fasten your seat belt and prepare to ride out some of the best weather of the year: 80s into next week, with occasional puffs of Canadian air keeping the dew point very tolerable - little chance of severe weather or monsoon rains. A few T-storms may pop up late Sunday, but most of the upcoming weekend will be dry and pleasantly warm.

Rainfall since June 1 is running 3.7 inches above average in the Twin Cities. No drought, no storms, no midsummer sweat. What's not to like?


Record Rains in July. Here's an excerpt of AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser's excellent blog post on record rains this month across much of the USA east of the Rockies: "...Heavy rain once again fell over parts of the central and southeast United States, leaving some locations with over 10″ of rain during the month. Indianapolis, IN, saw their wettest MONTH on record this July, with 13.14″ falling through July 29th. The previous monthly record for the Crossroads of America was 13.12″ back in July of 1875. It’s also been wet in parts of Texas (more on that in a moment) with 8.26″ falling in Abilene, TX, making it the wettest July on record..."


Drought-Free. It's remarkable how quickly the late spring drought has faded east of the Rockies. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows a few pockets of dry soil, but a total lack of drought from the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley. One measure of how good the weather has been over such a huge area: favorable soil moisture and the prospect of a record corn harvest has depressed prices.


Best Chance of T-storms: Saturday Night. Model guidance brings a weak trough of low pressure through late Saturday, capable of a few hours of showers and thunder. By Sunday winds shift around to the northwest and we dry out with another welcome dip in humidity. The forecast looks relatively dry as we sail into early August.


An Extended Heat Wave For Much of America. Frequent intrusions of cooler, drier Canadian air will continue to take the edge off the heat from Minnesota across the Great Lakes into New England, but much of the USA fries under sweltering 90 and even 100-degree heat into mid-August, based on the 14 day GFS outlook at 500 mb.


Summer Swelter: Heat Wave Scorches from Coast to Coast. USA TODAY takes a look at broiling heat afflicting much of America; here's an excerpt: "Yes, it's summer, and it's supposed to be hot, but this is a bit on the extreme side. As of 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, 110 million Americans in at least 35 states were sweltering under a temperature of least 90 degrees, according to WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue. About 35 million people were enduring a heat index of at least 100 degrees, he said..."


Devastating Floods Might Be More Common Than We Thought, Study Says. The Los Angeles Times has a summary of recent research; here's an excerpt: "...But some of the worst floods in coastal areas are caused by the unfortunate concurrence of big storm surges with high rainfall – a double-whammy for flooding, because it can result in the sea spilling over onto land while rivers and urban drainage systems overflow onto the streets. By examining these two phenomena together, researchers showed that heavy precipitation and high seas are occurring in tandem more often in many coastal cities, especially along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the U.S. The results were published this week in Nature Climate Change...."

Photo credit above: "The chances of heavy rainfall and high storm surges occuring in tandem is increasing, which puts U.S. cities at greater risk of flooding, researchers say. Above, water flows over the Industrial Canal floodwall in New Orleans in 2008." (Eliot Kamenitzd / The Times-Picayune via AP).


Younger Floridians Discount Hurricane Threat. The fact that the USA hasn't experienced a Category 3 or stronger hurricane in a decade is one factor. Older people remember - and tend to have respect for hurricanes. But if you've never experienced one? Here's an excerpt from The Jacksonville Democrat: "Those who experience hurricanes rarely lose their awe for the forces of nature. Many young people, though, have no idea of the kind of devastation hurricanes can cause. Those are some of the conclusions that could be drawn from a July Mason-Dixon poll of Florida residents 10 years after the record breaking summer of hurricanes Katrina, Dennis, Rita and Wilma. “That millennial group — some of the younger ones were in elementary school the last time there was a hurricane,” said J. Brad Coker, managing director of the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc..." (File photo: NASA).


Manitoba Tornado Was An F2: Environment Canada. Here's the intro to a story at The Winnipeg Sun: "A massive tornado that struck western Manitoba this week has been given an preliminary rating which puts it in the category of large and violent, but not the worst that nature can serve up. Environment Canada says the twister that roared through the Virden region near the Saskatchewan boundary Monday evening was of the high-end EF2 variety. Such tornadoes can pack wind speeds ranging from 179 kilometres an hour to 218 kilometres an hour -- capable of lifting cars, ripping out trees and damaging roofs..."

Photo credit above: "This twister that tore through southwestern Manitoba on Monday night has been classified as an F2." (GREG JOHNSON/TORNADO HUNTERS PHOTO).


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).


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..."


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.)..."


Solar Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels For Many Small Businesses. EcoWatch has the story; here's the intro: "Solar power is the fastest-growing sourc eof electricity in the country, and now mom and pop shops can take part in the boom. Solar panels are usually seen on the roofs of residential buildings, schools, large companies or government institutions, but now, SolarCity is expanding its services to small and medium-sized businesses, or SMRs, the company announced. This move essentially allows local businesses to cut ties to their utility and save money against rising electricity costs with renewable energy..." (photo credit: flickr).


What It Feels Like To Go Viral. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating piece from Pacific Standard: "Let's get some definitional housekeeping out of the way: There is no pageviews threshold for what a piece of #content needs in order to, as they say, “go viral.” It's a moving target that shifts from person-to-person, organization-to-organization, on a monthly, even daily, basis. If you normally have 2,000 daily readers, then you get 20,000, that's viral. If you're the New York Times and you get 20,000, something has gone horribly wrong. Pageviews matter, but relativity matters more..."


85 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

83 F. average high on July 30

83 F. high on July 30, 2014.

July 31, 1961: Downpour in Albert Lea with 6.7 inches in 24 hours. Source: MPX National Weather Service.


TODAY: Sunny, breezy, comfortable. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 83

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and pleasant. Low: 63

SATURDAY: Sunnier day of the weekend. Winds: W 10. High: 84

SUNDAY: Some sun, late-day T-storm risk. Wake-up: 63. High: 85

MONDAY: Blue sky, less humid again. Wake-up: 66. High: 81

TUESDAY: Pinch me. Remarkably nice! Wake-up: 61. High: near 80

WEDNESDAY: Less sun, stray T-shower possible. Wake-up: 64. High: 81

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, few complaints. Wake-up: 62. High: 79


Climate Stories....

Jeb Bush: Humans Contribute to Climate Change. Is the GOP taking baby-steps toward acknowledging the reality of man-made climate change? It would appear so, based on Jeb Bush's recent (encouraging) interview with Bloomberg, featured at TheHill; here's the intro: "GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush says human activity is contributing to climate change and the country has an obligation to work to stop it. “I think it’s appropriate to recognize this and invest in the proper research to find solutions over the long haul but not be alarmists about it,” Bush said in an interview published Thursday with Bloomberg BNA. “We should not say the end is near, not deindustrialize the country, not create barriers for higher growth, not just totally obliterate family budgets, which some on the left advocate by saying we should raise the price of energy so high that renewables then become viable,” he added..."


Step Outside - Climate Change is Here. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at The Sacramento Bee: "...if global warming doesn’t feel like a threat by now, it ought to. Last week, 16 leading scientists joined the former lead climate scientist for NASA in warning that glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland could melt 10 times faster than anyone thought. James Hansen, one of the first predictors of climate change – “alarmist and also right,” as Slate called him – reported that the goal we had all been told was safe, limiting global warming to a 2-degree Celsius temperature increase, actually won’t begin to control the damage. In as little as 50 years, according to the study published last Thursday in the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, sea levels may rise 10 feet or more, inundating the world’s coastal cities..."


Before The Time of Global Warming, Spring Sprung Later. Here's a snippet from a story at Inside Climate News: "...According to one of the largest troves of ecological data from the past, living organisms are already responding to the rise in temperatures from global warming. By digitizing more than 11,000 records from the 19th century that chronicled the flowering of plants and trees, the springtime arrival of migrating birds, and the annual onset of frog mating calls, researchers at the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program in Harlemville, N.Y. have shown that spring is arriving as much as 14 days early as climate change accelerates..." (File photo: NASA).



Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article29473891.html#storylink=cpy

New Report from Anti-Poverty Group Debunks Claim That Coal Is Good For Poor People. Here's the intro to a story at ThinkProgress: "The coal industry and its supporters often argue that coal is still a relevant energy source because it’s cheap, and cheap electricity reduces energy poverty. But on Tuesday, Oxfam Australia directed an entire report to Australia’s government, saying that for the one billion people living without electricity, coal is more expensive than renewable energy sources. “Renewable energy is a cheaper, quicker, and healthier way to increase energy access,” the report states. “Coal is ill-suited to meeting the needs of the majority of the people living without electricity...”


On The Economics Of The End of The World As We Know It. At the risk of sticking a toe into a puddle of gloom and doom - how do we measure and price risk, including the risk of cataclysmic changes brought on by climate change? Here's an excerpt from The Economist: "...However, estimating these benefits means that we need to determine the value of a reduction in preventing a possible future catastrophic risk. This is a thorny task. Martin Weitzman, an economist at Harvard University, argues that the expected loss to society because of catastrophic climate change is so large that it cannot be reliably estimated. A cost-benefit analysis—economists’ standard tool for assessing policies—cannot be applied here as reducing an infinite loss is infinitely profitable..."


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).

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.