Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Heat Advisory: Late Summer Hot Front Sparks Dog Days into Sunday

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 21, 2014 - 12:32 PM

Doppler on a Stick

Minnesota has so many wonderful traditions and festivals that celebrate the seasons - and our collective love of the outdoors. The Fishing Opener. Aquatennial. Deer Hunting Opener. St. Paul Winter Carnival.

But there's nothing quite like the Minnesota State Fair: amazing food, great exhibits and shows, and even better people-watching than Las Vegas.

11 days left in meteorological summer and the heat & humidity spikes into Sunday as a hot frontal surge of superheated air brushes Minnesota. That means a spirited round of storms this morning, and ripe conditions for occasional thunder into Sunday.

I don't see any all-day washouts, but if you're heading to the fair (or the cabin) keep an eye out for rapidly-building cumulonimbus capable of downpours and small hail. Remember that a storm doesn't have to be severe to be dangerous. Lightning is the big risk - if you can hear thunder the threat is real, and you should take cover.

If the sun stays out for a few hours temperatures may peak close to 90F each day into Sunday, with a debilitating dew point around 70F. An inch or two of rain may fall by Sunday, when a September-like sneeze of fresh Canadian air arrives.

Next week: 70s with less humidity.

Heat Advisory. The latest advisory includes much of the Twin Cities metro along with south central Minnesota. Details from NOAA:








Hot Flash. We've had a few spasms, spikes of summer heat, but no prolonged bouts of Dog Days, nothing that could be characterized as a heat wave (with a straight face). Assuming morning T-storms give way to some PM sunshine the mercury should hit 90F by the dinner hour, especially south metro, maybe some mid-90s near Mankato. 5 PM temperature: 4 KM NAM courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.

Morning Rumblers - "Ring of Fire". An expanding heat bubble sparks heavy showers and T-storms, especially during the nighttime hours from the Dakotas and Minnesota into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Future Radar: NOAA and HAMweather.

Gulley-Gushing Rains. 4 KM NAM data from NOAA shows a wide swath of 1-3" rains from the Dakotas into the Upper Midwest, Ohio Valley and Mid Atlantic Region. Monsoon-related T-storms may spark flash flooding over the Rockies.

Tropical Downpours. NAM guidance is hinting at some isolated 2-5" rainfall amounts with the storms pushing across Minnesota this morning, another round of storms capable of flash flooding near Wausau and Green Bay Thursday night into early Friday. The immediate Twin Cities metro may pick up some 1"+ rainfall amounts, with locally heavier amounts.

Sauna-On-A-Stick. Ice cream and ice tea will be big sellers at the Minnesota State Fair into Sunday; highs in the 80s, possibly brushing 90F later today, again Sunday. Dew points in the mid 60s to near 70F will make it feel like mid-90s. Stay hydrated and take it easy out there. A cooler front comes sailing into town late Sunday; highs in the 70s much of next week with a big drop in dew point (40s by Wednesday and Thursday). MSP Meteogram: Weatherspark.

Still Not Buying It - Yet. Here is the 12z Wednesday run of the GFS model, showing a possible tropical system pushing into Daytona Beach next Wednesday, August 27. But yesterday the potential landfall was closer to New Orleans. So stating the obvious my confidence level is about as low as it gets, especially considering that the ECWMF does not spin anything up close to the USA. Any landfall right now is still in the realm of fantasy football - fun to play, but very little skill or confidence. We'll keep you posted.

* will there be a Gulf Coast hurricane this year? Here's historical perspective from the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service.

Quiet Atlantic/Caribbean, But Very Active Pacific Season for Hurricanes & Typhoons. Here's an excerpt of an e-mail from Steven Scolnik that got my attention: "The Eastern Pacific is not on average. It's up to the "L" storm. This puts it on pace with 1992, which had 27 storms, the most since formal records began in 1949." (Image: National Institute of Informatics, Digital Typhoon).

Another Unpronounceable Icelandic Volcano Is Getting Ready To Explode. Slate has a good overview of what's happening; here's a clip: "...Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson met with civil defense officials on Monday, and roads near the remote volcano have been closed. Iceland Magazine reports that Iceland’s National Commissioner of Police has declared a Civil Protection Uncertainty Phase, increasing surveillance of the volcano and its surroundings. The Icelandic Coast Guard deployed additional seismic monitors by helicopter over the weekend. The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service has positioned a webcam to keep an eye on the volcano..."

* a live webcam of the Bardarbunga Icelandic volcano is here.

Airlines on Alert Amid Threat of Iceland Volcano Eruption. Bloomberg has details of how a brewing volcanic eruption may impact cross-Atlantic flights in the weeks to come; here's an excerpt: "...The seismic activity raised concern that airlines may face a repeat of the 2010 disruptions when a cloud belched from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano forced carriers to erase more than 100,000 flights and caused about $1.7 billion in lost revenue. Ash is a menace to jetliners because the glass-like particles can damage engines by melting and congealing. “There is still no sign of this intrusion being on its way to the surface,” said Martin Hensch, a seismologist at the Icelandic Met Office. “It’s still impossible to say whether or not the volcano will erupt, due to the simple fact that we can’t predict what the developments in the next hours or days will be....” (File photo from May 8, 2010 Eyjafjallajokul eruption." AP Photo/ APTN).

Want To See How Fast Coastal Wetlands and Forests are Vanishing? Here's a story excerpt from National Journal: "...Between 1996 and 2011, total coastal forest cover dropped by more than 16,000 square miles—an area roughly the size of Delaware, Maryland, and Rhode Island combined. Some 1,536 miles of wetlands were lost over that period as well, according to the data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here's what that looks like in the Southeast, where 510 square miles of wetlands—a swath more than 7 times the size of the District of Columbia—vanished between 1996 and 2011..." (Map credit: NOAA).

Hacking Traffic Lights is Apparently Really Easy. A simple (?) Internet hack is all you need to turn a city into a sea of gridlock. It sounds like a plot to a Hollywood blockbuster, but according to Time Magazine it's easier to pull off than it sounds. Here's an excerpt: "...Our attacks show that an adversary can control traffic infrastructure to cause disruption, degrade safety, or gain an unfair advantage,” writes the research team led by computer scientist J. Alex Halderman. “With the appropriate hardware and a little effort, [a hacker] can execute a denial of service attack to cripple the flow of traffic in a city, cause congestion at intersections by modifying light timings, or even take control of the lights and give herself clear passage through intersections,” according to the researchers’ findings..."

The Most-Stolen New and Used Cars in America. Are your wheels on the list? Here's a snippet of an eye-opening article at Forbes: "...Here’s the list of the 10 most stolen cars from all model years taken during 2013, according to the NICB, with total units cited:

  1. Honda Accord, 53,995
  2. Honda Civic, 45,001
  3. Chevrolet Silverado, 27,809
  4. Ford F-150, 26,494
  5. Toyota Camry, 14,420..."

Photo credit above: "An older Honda Accord is the most stolen car in the U.S., with nearly 54,000 units from various model years pinched last year." (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

Where Do Bags Go After The TSA Takes Them? Specifically lost luggage that never quite finds its way back to its owner? Alabama, of course. I had no idea, but this article at set me straight. Here's a clip: "...most misplaced bags are reunited with their owners within forty-eight hours. Within five days, 95 percent of those 2 million bags will find themselves back home. But a small percentage—and we’re talking 50,000 to 100,000—sit idly, never to find their way back home. What happens to these bags? They go to Alabama. Scottsboro, Alabama, is a small city of just under 15,000 people, tucked away in the northeast corner of the state, thirty miles or so from the Georgia and Tennessee borders. Every year, about a million visitors come to this tiny city, the vast majority of whom come to visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center. This 50,000-square- foot store sells the things that flyers lost and were unable to recover..."

Study: To Boost Your Odds of a Successful Marriage, Have a Big Wedding. The more people throwing rice the greater the perceived commitment, the greater the willingness to hang in there when things get tough? No idea, but here's a clip from a story at The Los Angeles Times that may you may want to share with anyone about to tie the knot. Wedding planners will be happy to see this too: "To improve your odds of a high-quality marriage, try not to have too many sexual partners before you meet “the one.” And when you do find him or her, consider inviting at least 150 people to your wedding. That’s just some of the practical advice offered by a pair of psychology researchers from the University of Denver who have studied 418 people who participated in the Relationship Development Study. All of them were single and between the ages of 18 and 40 when they joined the study in 2007 and 2008, and all of them had tied the knot by the time the researchers checked in with them five years later..."

If You're Born In The Sky What's Your Nationality? An Airplane Puzzler. I can't say I've ever thought about this before, but in case you have Robert Krulwich has a few ideas over at NPR; here's a clip that caught my eye: "...According to Alastair, "If you are born over the United States, in a foreign plane with foreign parents, you can still claim U.S. citizenship." Really? That's so generous! (Do Brazil, Russia, Egypt grant a flyover baby the same option?) I may be the only person on Earth fascinated by this legal puzzle, but I bet there are some of you out there — lawyers, airline attendants, maybe even a real life "flyover baby" — who know if there's a general rule governing sky births. Is there a practice followed by most nations, or does every case turn on its details, on its particular who, when and where?.."

On Every Camper's Checklist: A Collapsible Hot Tub. Forget the wandering around, blisters and sore muscles, I'm just going to set this baby up by the lake and watch the rest of you clomp around in the woods. Who buys this stuff? Gizmag has more details: "When planning a camping trip, most people tend to pack stuff like matches, coffee, and a spare pack of batteries. Thanks to Portland, Oregon-based company The Original Nomad, you're now able to add a hot tub to the list, as the firm has just launched a collapsible tub geared towards campers..."

83 F. high on Wednesday at MSP.

80 F. average high on August 20.

90 F. high on August 20, 2013.

August 20 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: MPX National Weather Service:

1918: 3rd Deadliest tornado strikes Tyler and destroys the downtown area, leaving 36 dead.

1886: High winds hit Northfield with winds blowing at 60 mph for 20 minutes. The peak gusts were from 75 to 80 mph.

1883: A series of tornadoes touches down in southeastern Minnesota, resulting in 40 fatalities and over 200 injuries. Appalled by the lack of medical care received by the victims of the tornado, Mother Alfred Moes, founder of the Sisters of St. Francis, proposes to build and staff a hospital if Dr. W.W. Mayo will provide medical care. St. Marys Hospital opens in 1889 with 27 beds and eventually grows into the Mayo Clinic.

TODAY: Heat Advisory. Steamy sunshine. Heat index near 100F. Dew point: 74. Winds: S 10. High: 91

THURSDAY NIGHT: Muggy and warm. Low: 71

FRIDAY: Sticky sun, sunnier and drier. Dew point: 64. High: 88

SATURDAY: Tropical sun. Strong storms late PM. Wake-up: 70. High: 86

SUNDAY: Free Sauna. Heavy PM storms. Dew point: 69. Wake-up: 69. High: 91

MONDAY: Blue sky, less humidity. Dew point: 56. Wake-up: 68. High: 80

TUESDAY: Few showers, possible storms south. Wake-up: 61. High: 78

WEDNESDAY: Slow clearing, comfortable. DP: 58. Wake-up: 63. High: 75

Climate Stories...

"It takes so little, so infinitely little, for a person to cross the border beyond which everything loses meaning: love, convictions, faith, history.  Human life -- and herein lies its secret -- takes place in the immediate proximity of that border, even in direct contact with it; it is not miles away, but a fraction of an inch."

-- Milan Kundera

Cartoon credit: Mike Peters at The Dayton Daily News and Facebook.

Here's How Arctic Sea Ice Could Shrink Even More. No ice or thin ice = higher, storm-driven waves, which has a positive feedback, destroying more Arctic ice, resulting in even more wave action. A cascade of unintended consequences that the models may or may not pick up in time. Here's an excerpt of a story at Climate Central: "...As the sea ice covering the Arctic continues to shrink under the influence of greenhouse gas-induced warming, it’s causing a host of other changes in the region, including the growth of large waves in the previously iced-over areas. Those waves could potentially reinforce and hasten the demise of sea ice, leading to further changes in the fragile polar realm. Changes brought on by global warming in the Arctic region have been well documented. Temperatures there have risen twice as fast as the global average. That rise is tied to a decline in Arctic sea ice, which has seen its seasonal minimum area shrink by nearly 14 percent per decade since the late 1970s..."

Map credit above: "A map showing wave heights in the Arctic based on wave model run with conditions during a September 2012 storm." Credit: Thomson and Rogers, 2014.

Cities' Air Problems Only Get Worse With Climate Change. Warmer temperatures, coupled with sunshine and hydrocarbon exhaust from vehicles and industry trigger more ozone, as explained in this excerpt of a story at The New York Times: "...In the world’s already smoggy metropolises, pollution is likely to grow worse, a phenomenon scientists have taken to calling the climate penalty. Ozone is a key culprit. This lung-damaging compound, often formed from chemical reactions involving sunlight and automobile exhaust and other pollution, plagues major cities around the globe. As the climate heats up, it is projected that more ozone will form in polluted areas on sweltering days..."

Climate Change Means More Bugs, Slimy Ponds. Here's an excerpt of a report at USA TODAY: "From a surge in disease-carrying ticks and Tiger mosquitoes to increases in toxic algae blooms, the symptoms of climate change are rapidly affecting America's relationship with the great outdoors, the National Wildlife Federation warned Tuesday. The NWF report assessed troubling climate-related changes in eight species..."

Photo credit above: "Bowers Beach resident Gary Boyle pushes off from a dock at Silver Lake in Dover, Del., for early afternoon bass fishing. A sign cautions against contact with the water on days when blue-green algae blooms are dense." (Photo: Gary Emeigh, The Wilmington, Delaware News Journal).

Why I'm a Climate Change Alarmist. I know a little of what meteorologist Eric Holthaus is talking about. If you express any real concern the Internet trolls dismiss you as alarmist, or worse. I'm alarmed, and if, after looking at all the data, you're not just a little bit paranoid, you're not paying attention. Here's an excerpt of Eric's essay at Slate: "...Many of us have been lambasted for talking about the fundamental health of the planet. Climate scientist Kerry Emanuel has written “those interested in treating the issue as an objective problem in risk assessment and management are labeled ‘alarmists,’ a particularly infantile smear considering what is at stake.” Now, I’m also an optimist. I’m convinced that humanity has the ability to tackle the problem and come to international agreement on how to do so in a fair way. It simply must happen. But for something so serious, it seems like there’s a general lack of alarm, a lack of emotion, and—to be blunt—a lack of ambition to act with the scale and urgency the issue requires..."

The Importance of Debating Energy Policies - Not Technologies. Location matters, in terms of what clean, renewable sources of energy will work and scale. Here's an excerpt of a thoughtful look at the challenge at Scientific American: "...Which of these renewable technologies makes the most sense varies from one location to another. In dry, sunny areas, solar photovoltaics are likely the best choice, because they run on sunlight and require very little water. In water-rich regions like the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Canada, most electricity can be produced in hydroelectric dams. And in coastal cities like New York and Seattle, tidal energy might be an appealing local electricity option. The renewable energy source that is the best option depends on the unique local geographic and weather conditions, so we are poised to further diversify our energy supply if we transition to renewable energy—not converge on one technology..."

After Water. Science fiction, alarmism, or one of many realistic scenarios describing how fresh water may become the most precious natural resource of the 21st century? Here's a description of a short story, "After Water", courtesy of WBEZ in Chicago and SoundCloud: "What happens 100 years from now when, if climate change has brought us to a point where water has become one of our scarcest resources, and more precious than oil or gold? We've asked fiction writers to imagine the Great Lakes region a century or more on, and help us paint an audio portrait of that world. In her story, "World After Water", Chicago author Abby Geni brings us to a city flooded by dirty, toxic water. We follow the struggle of four boys, forced to steal clean water from their wealthy neighbors to survive."

One More Summer Spasm - Thundery Hot Front on Thursday - El Nino: Sizzle or Fizzle?

Posted by: Paul Douglas under Lions Updated: August 19, 2014 - 11:47 PM

Mission Impossible

It's a logical, reasonable question. "Paul, will it rain on my yard this evening?" We respond with probabilities and words like "isolated" and "scattered" thundershowers.

"You have Turbo-Doppler! Why can't you tell me if the storms will hit MY HOUSE?"

Welcome to the world of random weather. We can tell when conditions are ripe for storms, but will your neighborhood be the 10 to 20 percent of the state that sees rain?

In spite of 3 KM resolution models that update every hour the state of the art still can't answer that question with a high degree of confidence. A line of storms? That's straightforward. But hit-or-miss, "popcorn" instability showers? Good luck. Radar on a phone is probably your best tool for pinpointing rain chances for your GPS location. Anything else is an exercise in hand-waving.

Today looks quiet: no pulsating red blobs on Doppler. Storms rumble in Thursday with high humidity. Friday will be the better day to graze the healthy food choices at the State Fair, with highs near 90F. I'll be at the Star Tribune booth around midday to hang out with Vineeta Sawkar and babble about the dew point.

Near 90F Sunday, then a breath of fresh, September air next week.

* 3 KM HRRR model from Tuesday courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.

Future Radar. Here is 60-hour NOAA NAM guidance showing the next wave of warm frontal thunderstorms pushing across southern and central Minnesota late tonight into Thursday morning. A counterclockwise swirl of showers pushes across the Great Lakes, with a possible severe storm outbreak pushing thru the Ohio Valley into the Mid Atlantic states. Monsoon-related T-storms flare up over the Rockies, but no colorful blobs appear over California, where the drought continues to deepen. Loop: HAMweather.

Accumulated Rainfall Potential. NOAA high-res models print out as much as 2-3" rain for the Twin Cities metro by Thursday night as a (hot) front surges north. If skies clear fast enough behind these storms the mercury may hit 90F on Thursday with dew points sweltering close to 70F. The maps look more like late June than late August into Sunday, but much cooler air knocks the mercury into the 60s and 70s much of next week with half as much water vapor in the air by Monday. If you're looking for comfortable weather for the Minnesota State Fair you may want to wait until next week. Guidance:

El Nino: Fizzle or Sizzle? What happened to the much-anticipated, much-hyped El Nino event of 2014? It's still coming, according to NOAA's Here's an excerpt of a good post and update: "...In summary, we continue to favor the emergence of El Niño in the coming months, with the peak chance of emergence around 65% (i.e. there is a 35% chance of El Niño not occurring).  ENSO forecasters do not expect a strong El Niño (we can’t eliminate the chance of one either), but we are not expecting El Niño to “fizzle.”  In fact, just in the last week, we have started to see westerly wind anomalies pick up near the Date Line.  Literally and figuratively, we may be witnessing the start of ENSO’s second wind."

Graphic credit above: "Two consecutive years of Niño-3.4 index values for El Niño episodes that peaked during the Northern Hemisphere winter. The thick black line shows the values of Niño-3.4 for the current year (2014) up to present. The dashed (solid) horizontal line shows where the Niño-3.4 index is equal to 0.5°C (0°C). Data based on weekly OISSTv2."  Figure by Michelle L’Heureux, Climate Prediction Center.

California's Record Heat Is Unlike Nothing You've Ever Seen....Yet. Here's an excerpt of a story that puts California's heat into perspective, courtesy of Bloomberg: "If hot thermometers actually exploded like they do in cartoons, there would be a lot of mercury to clean up in California right now. The California heat this year is like nothing ever seen, with records that go back to 1895. The chart below shows average year-to-date temperatures in the state from January through July for each year. The orange line shows the trend rising 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. The sharp spike on the far right of the chart is the unbearable heat of 2014. That’s not just a new record; it’s a chart-busting 1.4 degrees higher than the previous record. It’s an exclamation point at the end of a long declarative sentence..."

Graphic credit above: National Climatic Data Center.

"Severe" Drought Covers Nearly 99.8% of California, Report Says. Here's an excerpt of a Los Angeles Times story, which includes an amazing infographic that shows the evolution of California's drought: "Drought conditions may have leveled off across California, but nearly 100% of the state remains in the third-harshest category for dryness, according to the latest measurements. For the past two weeks, California's drought picture has remained the same, halting a steady march toward worse. But the breather has allowed the state to recover only ever so slightly..."

British Columbia Has Spent More Than 3 Times Its Wildfire Fighting Budget. News1130 in Vancouver has the story; here's the intro: "The province is paying a pretty penny when it comes to fighting forest fires this summer. Around $200 million has been spent in the last few months, blowing past the original budget of around $60 million. And since the season is not over yet, that number is expected to grow. Kevin Skrepnek with the Wildfire Management Branch says when it comes to the size and severity of fires, this year has been the worst we have seen since 2010..."

Photo credit: Wildfire Management Branch.

Cheap Hurricane Hype? Is it just noise - or a signal for something we need to keep an eye on? A tropical wave east of the Lesser Antilles has a 50% probability of strengthening into a tropical system within 5 days, according to NOAA NHC. The forecast for midday Wednesday, August 27, one week from today, shows a tropical storm or hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico on the GFS, but the ECMWF (European) model isn't buying it, not yet. If you live along the Gulf Coast you might want to keep an eye on this. I tend to favor the ECMWF, especially with tropical development, but it would be unwise to ignore the GFS altogether. GFS model: Weather Bell; ECMWF guidance: WSI.

Summer of Research to Improve Hurricane Forecasting. In addition to flying into hurricanes (the USA is still the only nation on Earth that does this on a routine basis) NOAA is using two Global Hawk drones to go where no aircraft can go, providing additional data streams that may help forecasters, especially with intensity. Here's an excerpt from NOAA: "...Such targeted observations help significantly improve forecast models for predicting hurricanes, especially when the data can be gathered on a nearly continuous basis for an extended period in areas not now being observed. This fall, NOAA will join with NASA to launch two 115-foot wingspan Global Hawks. These unmanned aircraft will take off from Wallops Island, Va., on several data-collecting missions during five weeks at the height of Atlantic hurricane season.  “With the Global Hawk we can fly farther out over the ocean and get to storms that manned aircraft cannot reach..."

Photo credit: "Releasing dropsonde. The Global Hawk can deploy multiple dropsondes at altitudes up to 65,000 feet to collect measurements of temperature, pressure, relative humidity and wind speed and direction." (NOAA).

Danger: Shifting Tracks. Data shows that hurricanes are reaching peak intensity consistently farther north, another symptom of a warming atmosphere and shifting weather patterns. Here's a clip from MIT Technology Review: "Powerful, destructive tropical cyclones are reaching their peak intensity farther from the equator and closer to the poles, according to a study coauthored by an MIT scientist. The study, published in Nature, shows that over the last 30 years, tropical cyclones—also known as hurricanes or typhoons—have been moving poleward at a rate of about 33 miles per decade in the Northern Hemisphere and 38 miles per decade in the Southern Hemisphere..."

Map credit above: "Tropical storm tracks from 1985 to 2005 reflect the poleward migration of cyclones over the last three decades. Such storms now tend to peak farther away from the equator."

Airborne Phased Array Radar Could Spur a "Quantum Leap" in Hurricane Forecasts. Meteorologists do a good job with track, but predicting intensity changes is more problematic. Will a next-generation doppler system help? Here's an excerpt of a story at The Capital Weather Gang: "Forecasts for the tracks of hurricanes have made huge strides over the past 15 years, improving by over 50 percent. But forecasts for the intensity of hurricanes have lagged, with only modest gains in accuracy seen very recently. A new technology under development at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), known as Airborne Phased Array Radar (APAR), could be a game-changer for improving forecasts for hurricane intensity and other types of severe weather, according to those familiar with the project..." (3-D visualization of Hurricane Katrina: NASA).

Hurricane Camille: What If It Struck New Jersey? As waters continue to warm could more intense hurricanes systematically find their way farther north, threatening larger population center of the Northeast? The idea isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. Here are a few excerpts from an article at Asbury Park Press: "...Camille's surge was about 25 feet high while Sandy's storm tide (storm surge and astronomical tide) was roughly 14 feet at Sandy Hook, according to NOAA. Moreover, Camille's estimated peak winds were more than twice as strong as Sandy's....Experts have told me over the years that a Category 4 storm is the strongest hurricane that could threaten New Jersey because ocean waters aren't as warm off our coast as they are down south. Still, the storm surge from a Category 4 storm would move up to several miles inland in parts of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, according to maps on the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management website..."

Map credit above: "Hurricane Camille's storm surge was 24.6 feet high along part of the Mississippi coast." (Photo: NOAA Satellite and Information Service).

Tornado-Proof Shelter for Holdrege Students. Here's an elementary school in Nebraska that is taking the lead in protecting students and staff, an excerpt of an interesting story at KHGI-TV: "...Safety is what parents want and demand when leaving their kids in the hands of teachers. Now those in Holdrege can breathe a sigh of relief as a new storm shelter can withstand 250 mile per hour winds is being built. Todd Hilyard, the superintendent for Holdrege Public Schools looked over the latest plans for the new elementary school.  "All of this, both the exterior walls as well as the interior, are masonry block walls with rebar and concrete fill as well as a concrete roof on top of the storm shelter," he said. "I think every superintendent's heart is in the right place and unfortunately these are expensive areas to build..."

Secrets of Iceberg That Sank The Titanic Revealed In New Study. It turns out 1912 may not have been much of an above-average year for big icebergs. Then again, all it takes is one. Here's an excerpt from a story at Huffington Post: "...Aside from reshaping long-held theories about the Titanic tragedy, the new findings -- described in a paper published online in July 2014 edition of the journal Significance -- may hold an important warning for seagoing vessels today. “As use of the Arctic, in particular, increases in the future, with declining summer sea ice the ice hazard will increase in waters not previously used for shipping," the researchers conclude in the paper. "As polar ice sheets are increasingly losing mass as well, iceberg discharge is increasing... and increasing global warming will likely cause this trend to continue."

In Silicon Valley, Mergers Must Meet The Toothbrush Test. I like the sound of this - pay for things you use every day. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at The New York Times: "When deciding whether Google should spend millions or even billions of dollars in acquiring a new company, its chief executive, Larry Page, asks whether the acquisition passes the toothbrush test: Is it something you will use once or twice a day, and does it make your life better? The esoteric criterion shuns traditional measures of valuing a company like earnings, discounted cash flow or even sales. Instead, Mr. Page is looking for usefulness above profitability, and long-term potential over near-term financial gain..."

Graphic credit above: Liz Grauman/The New York Times.

The NSA Has Nothing on Google. Do you want to see exactly where you were, on any day in the recent past, courtesy of Google Maps? If you are logged into Google, use Google Maps and (obviously) have location services turned on, this should work for you as well. Click on location history at and you can take a virtual walk down memory lane as see every place you've been going back months (years?). The very definition of TMI...

Robin Williams, Connectedness and The Need to End The Stigma Around Mental Illness. Arianna Huffington takes a look at what all of us can learn, and how we can help those struggling with depression, in this article at Huffington Post; here's a clip: "...So while of course each instance of suicide is different, and while the reasons that people choose to take their own life are complex and individual, as we ask "why" about Robin Williams, we should also broaden the question. Why tens of thousands of people? What is happening that so many people make this irrevocable choice? What are we missing in our culture? How can we open up the conversation on this issue to make other choices seem more realistic and appealing?..."

Taku-Tanku Portable Tiny House Can Be Towed With a Bike. This is looking better and better all the time. Can I jam in a big-screen TV and flush toilet? Two words: low maintenance. Here's a clip from a story at Gizmag: "...The Taku-Tanku is aimed at being compact and affordable. Its interior can accommodate two to three people and has a compartment to store some luggage or belongings. It is also equipped with solar-powered LED lights. There are no frills inside, however. The house is simply said to be easy to build with off-the-shelf and re-purposed materials, and able to provide shelter in a variety of landscapes..."

So Bad It's Good. The worst TV commercial ever made? I've actually seen worse, but in a way this campy, off-tune, train-wreck of a :30 spot for a Missouri shopping mall is pure genius. It may be awful, but 1.3 million people have checked it out on YouTube. Who do you think is getting the last laugh?

81 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

80 F. average high on August 19.

88 F. high on August 19, 2013.

August 19, 1904: Both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul were hit by tornadoes. This was the highest official wind ever recorded in Minnesota over one minute (110 mph in St. Paul).

TODAY: Warm sunshine, still pleasant. Winds: SE 10. High: 84

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds, a few T-storms likely. Low: 70

THURSDAY: Muggy and hot, few T-storms with locally heavy rain. Some PM sun. Dew point: 70. High: near 90

FRIDAY: Drier, still steamy with more sun. Dew point: 67. Wake-up: 69. High: 89

SATURDAY: Sticky sun, PM T-storms. Dew point: 69. Wake-up: 70. High: 87

SUNDAY: Partly sunny. Stinking hot. Wake-up: 68. High: near 90

MONDAY: Blue sky, breathing much easier. Dew point: 53. Wake-up: 63. High: 73

TUESDAY: Sunny start, late showers. Dew point: 49. Wake-up: 57. High: 72

Climate Stories...

How The World's Biggest PR Firm Helps Promote Climate Change Denial. Here's the intro to an eye-opening story at Motherboard. What a shock, it's all about the money: "When a recent Guardian survey asked top public relations firms if they would refuse to represent organizations that denied climate change, the response was encouraging: ten of the largest said they would. Decidedly less inspiring was the response of the world's single biggest PR company, Edelman, which said it would not rule out helping corporations spread messages of climate change denial.  This shouldn't be too surprising, seeing as how it's already doing precisely that. A lot. Edelman helps polluting companies use TV ads, astroturf groups, and slick websites to promote climate change denial around the globe..."

Photo credit above: "CEO Richard Edelman speaking at Davos in 2011." Image: Robert Scoble/Flickr

Did Global Warming Cause "The Great Flood of 2014?" Detroit meteorologist (and friend) Paul Gross provides a thoughtful, scientifically accurate answer to that question at; here's an excerpt: "People have been asking me if last week’s historic flood was caused by global warming.  The short answer is NO, but read on because this answer requires an explanation.  Weather systems develop all the time, and have been doing so for as long as we’ve had weather on this planet.  The weather system that developed and dumped a once-every-500-year rain event on metro Detroit last week may have developed anyway. HOWEVER, our warming climate might have made that weather system a heavier rain-producer than it might have been..."

Snow Has Thinned on Arctic Sea Ice. Here are some of the latest findings from The American Geophysical Union: "Scientists have been tracking snow depth on Arctic sea ice for almost a century, using research stations on drifting ice floes and today’s radar-equipped aircraft. Now that people are more concerned than ever about what is happening at the poles, a new study confirms that snow has thinned significantly in the Arctic, particularly on sea ice in western waters near Alaska. The new assessment, accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, combines data collected by ice buoys and NASA aircraft with historic data from ice floes staffed by Soviet scientists from the late 1950s through the early 1990s to track changes over decades..."

Photo credit above: "Researcher Melinda Webster uses a probe to measure snow depth and verify airborne data. She is walking on sea ice near Barrow, Alaska in March 2012. Her backpack holds electronics that power the probe and record the data." Chris Linder / Univ. of Washington.

Antarctica Could Raise Sea Level Faster Than Previously Thought. Here's a clip from a story at that caught my eye: "Ice discharge from Antarctica could contribute up to 37 centimeters to the global sea level rise within this century, a new study shows. For the first time, an international team of scientists provide a comprehensive estimate on the full range of Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level rise based on physical computer simulations. Led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the study combines a whole set of state-of-the-art climate models and observational data with various ice models. The results reproduce Antarctica’s recent contribution to sea level rise as observed by satellites in the last two decades and show that the ice continent could become the largest contributor to sea level rise much sooner than previously thought..."

File photo credit: Eric Mohl/Special to the Star Tribune. "Stunning views like this one compel people to brave the seas to get to Antarctica."

Meet The Companies That Are Trying To Profit From Global Warming. As I've said (ad nauseum) climate change and climate/water volatility represents a threat, and an opportunity. Many, even most of the solutions will come from the private sector. Here's an excerpt of a story at Vox: "...Greenland has taken advantage of the warming Arctic — which is melting the ice and opening new mining opportunities — to push for independence from Denmark. The government is already anticipating millions of dollars in new tax revenue as oil and gas rush north. Alcoa even has plans for a massive aluminum smelter there — powered by Greenland's rivers of melting ice. Dutch engineers are selling their storied flood-management expertise to countries threatened by sea-level rise. One company, Dutch Docklands, is pitching visions of floating cities to regions that could eventually find themselves underwater..."

Photo credit above: "Tasiilaq, Greenland — one country that could stand to benefit from a warmer climate." Christine Zenino/Flickr

A Global Warming "Speed Bump"? Here's an excerpt of a good explanation of what's really happening, increasing trade winds pulling some of the excess heating of recent years into the oceans. Almost like the planet is trying to compensate for our stupidity. Here's a clip from The Union of Concerned Scientists: "...Even as a car slows down to go over a “speed bump,” there is no question the car is still advancing down the road. Similarly, the global average surface temperature trend of late is like a “speed bump” and we would expect the rate of temperature increase to speed up again just as most drivers do after clearing the speed bump. We keep getting questions about this air temperature trend that has more to do with where the excess heat is primarily going — the ocean — and the rate at which heat transfers to the deep ocean, as well as other factors that can temporarily offset the influence of heat-trapping gases..."

What I Learned From Debating Science With Trolls. Here's an excerpt of a post at The Conversation, one of many tactics used by denialists; this one focused on perverting Galileo's legacy: "...The Galileo Gambit is a debating technique that perverts this history to defend nonsense. Criticisms by the vast majority of scientists are equated with the opinions of 17th century clergy, while a minority promoting pseudoscience are equated with Galileo. Ironically, the Galileo Gambit is often employed by those who have no scientific expertise and strong ideological reasons for attacking science. And its use isn’t restricted to online debates..."

Graphic credit above: "Galileo Galilei understood the power of observations." Wikimedia

Dog Days Coming - Hints of Late September Next Week?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 19, 2014 - 10:15 AM

Half a Summer

I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome from scratching my head 18 hours a day, my face frozen in a perplexed, puzzled expression. Because the weather draped over North America is still a long way from average.

According to Japan's Meteorological Agency July was the second warmest on record, worldwide. But we've seen huge variations here in the USA, faint whispers of the polar vortex keeping the Upper Midwest and New England cooler than average, while the west continues to fry.

The Twin Cities have only seen two days above 90F. An easy summer, right? Meanwhile Portland, Oregon has endured 12 days of 90s and counting. The same (stuck) ridge of high pressure sparking historic drought in California is sparking record heat out west, and the largest Washington State wildfire on record.

We dry out a bit today and Wednesday before the next round storms rumble in by late week; highs near 90F Friday and Saturday. For Day 1 of the State Fair an early storm Thursday will leave behind dew points near 70F.

Friday looks hot and sweaty; low 90s possible Saturday before a cooler front arrives Sunday. Expect 60s & low 70s by Monday.

I guess we're overdue for a mild case of the Dog Days.

A Tropical Stew With Big Thundery Lumps. The atmosphere over Minnesota was volatile yesterday, dew points in the 60s with a pocket of chilly air overhead creating a very unstable airmass by mid afternoon. Wind shear wasn't sufficient for widespread wind damage or tornadoes, but a few storms sparked quarter-size hail. The 1 KM visible loop during the afternoon shows cumulonimbus sprouting rapidly after 4 PM. Source: NOAA and HAMweather.

Outflow Boundaries. NWS Doppler at 6:47 PM Monday shows the most severe storms sprouting over far southern Minnesota, where a Severe Storm Watch was eventually issued. Look carefully and you can see outflow boundaries, arc-shaped swirls kicked off by rain and hail-cooled air spreading out on the ground, sparking more thunderstorms upwind. Source: GRLevel2.

Dog Days, Then Football Weather. Long range guidance shows highs in the mid 80s to near 90F Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before a vigorous cool frontal passage arrives Saturday night; dew points droppping from low 70s Saturday into the low 40s by Monday. Storms are most likely early Thursday, late Friday and again late Saturday with the frontal passage. European models are hinting at 40s for lows by next Wednesday morning. MSP Meteograph: Weatherspark.

The News Behind The News: Ferguson, Missouri Was Hit By an EF-4 Tornado in 2011. Here's more information on the tornado strike, the biggest in St. Louis County in 44 years, on Palm Sunday, April 22, 2011, from the St. Louis National Weather Service: "Two tornadic supercells crossed the St. Louis County Warning Area during the afternoon and evening hours of Good Friday, April 22 2011.  The northern most supercell spawned a EF4 tornado that ripped a 21 mile path of destruction across St. Louis County in Missouri and Madison County in Illinois. Municipalities that were affected include Maryland Heights, Bridgeton, St. Ann, Edmundson, Lambert St. Louis International Airport (City of St. Louis), Berkeley, Ferguson, Pontoon Beach/Granite City.  Remarkably, there were no fatalities with this event. This can be attributed to the 34 minutes of tornado warning lead time, wall to wall media coverage, and the actions of those in the direct path of the tornado..." (Photo credit above: Jeff Robinson, AP).

So why mention the EF-4 that caused significant damage in Ferguson 3 years ago? Larry Lazar, a friend and colleague who lives in St. Louis, provided the photos above and some context below: "I'm sure you have all seen and heard the disturbing news from Ferguson, Missouri over the last week or so. Ferguson is a suburb in the northern part of St. Louis (just east of the airport if you have been to St. Louis). What is not making the news is that Ferguson was devastated by a direct hit from a F4 tornado in the spring of 2011....It is likely a stretch to link the civil unrest in Ferguson to the devastation caused by tornadoes 3 years ago. However, when unprecedented weather disasters hit, the most pain and suffering frequently occurs in the those poor neighborhoods that are least equipped to deal with the impacts or the cleanup. Poor communities like Ferguson are often unable to fully recover from weather disasters, which exasperates other issues affecting the community. I participated for one day in a clean-up effort organized by the American Red Cross and took quite a few pictures. Here are a handful..."

July: Second Warmest On Record, Worldwide? Here's a graphic and excerpt of a post at the Japan Meteorological Agency: "The monthly anomaly of the global average surface temperature in July 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.28°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.63°C above the 20th century average), and was the 2nd warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.66°C per century..."

West's Historic Drought Stokes Fears of Water Crisis. Water in underground acquifers only goes so far, as people in California's Central Valley are quickly discovering. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "...Now, across California’s vital agricultural belt, nervousness over the state’s epic drought has given way to alarm. Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers — always a backup source during the region’s periodic droughts — are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are both historic and unsustainable. One state-owned well near Sacramento registered an astonishing 100-foot drop in three months as the water table, strained by new demand from farmers, homeowners and municipalities, sank to a record low..."

Photo credit: "Brandon Arthur, 10, tries to get out of muddy tailings left by his father Steve Arthur's water well drill site on Juan Carrera's orange grove farm in Terra Bella, Calif., on July 16, 2014. Arthur's crew is drilling a well on Carrera's farm that will provide water for his grove. River water and melted snow have dried up, forcing farmers like Carrera to drill newer and deeper wells to tap shrinking groundwater sources." (Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times/MCT).

87 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

80 F. average high on August 18.

83 F. high on August 18, 2013.

August 18 in Minnesota Weather History (source: MPX Twin Cities National Weather Service):

2007: Record 24-hour maximum rainfall of 15.10 inches set in Hokah, MN (Houston County). This 24-hour total contributed to the record monthly maximum rainfall of 23.86 inches that was set in Hokah during August of 2007

1980: Strong winds at Belle Plaine severely damage five planes.

TODAY: Sunny, a bit less humid. Stray PM T-storm. Dew point: 63. Winds: NW 10+ High: 79

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and relatively comfortable. Low: 59

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, pleasant. High: 81

THURSDAY: Stormy start for the MN State Fair, sticky PM sun. DP: 70. Wake-up: 66. High: 86

FRIDAY: Steamy sun. Free sauna. Dew point: 71. Wake-up: 67. High: 88

SATURDAY: Still tropical and hot. Numerous T-storms north/west Minnesota. Dew point: 71. Wake-up: 71. High: 91

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun. Leftover shower; turning cooler. Wake-up: 68. High: 76

MONDAY: Fresh air, hints of September. Comfortable sun. DP: 45. Wake-up: 56. High: 72

Climate Stories...

Recent Arctic Amplification and Extreme Mid-Latitude Weather. This is a trend I've been seeing on the weather maps, especially since 2010 or so; a tendency toward more elongated (amplifed) Rossby waves over the Northern Hemisphere, triggering a subsequent slow-down of weather patterns, more of a potential for weather to get stuck for days or weeks (the polar vortex last winter was in place for the better part of 3 months). Here's an abstract of new research from Jennifer Francis (et all) at Nature Geoscience: "The Arctic region has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average — a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. The rapid Arctic warming has contributed to dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice and spring snow cover, at a pace greater than that simulated by climate models. These profound changes to the Arctic system have coincided with a period of ostensibly more frequent extreme weather events across the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, including severe winters. The possibility of a link between Arctic change and mid-latitude weather has spurred research activities that reveal three potential dynamical pathways linking Arctic amplification to mid-latitude weather: changes in storm tracks, the jet stream, and planetary waves and their associated energy propagation..."

Real Conservatives are Conservationists. Here's an excerpt of a story that resonated with me from Professor of Geological Sciences (and avowed conservative) Barry Bickmore, at "Why is it that some political conservatives have been so obstinate in opposing any government action to address human-caused climate change? The answer is that they aren’t real conservatives. Real conservatives favor working toward a truly free and equitable society by intelligently considering our options and choosing those that will cause the least social upheaval and loss of individual freedom. This minimalist approach to managing change stems from a healthy respect for “the Law of Unintended Consequences.” That is, whenever humans try to fix things, we always fail to account for all the consequences, which are often much worse than we expected. This is why conservatives, such as Edmund Burke, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, and Richard Nixon, have historically also been conservationists..."

Communicating Climate Change - Without The Scary Monsters. Local. Local. Local. Here's a clip from a story at that got my attention: "...Why worry about the potential to break the 2C barrier, when you have to pay the mortgage? Who's buying the next round? Or (and this is tough) convince the kids they've watched too much of Peppa Pig for one day? It's a question exercising Pete Bowyer, who heads up the climate arm of PR firm Havas, charged with promoting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's climate summit. "They say all politics is local - but all communications is local - and that's particularly true of climate change, he tells RTCC..."

Why worry about the potential to break the 2C barrier, when you have to pay the mortgage? Who’s buying the next round? Or (and this is tough) convince the kids they’ve watched too much Peppa Pig for one day?

It’s a question exercising Pete Bowyer, who heads up the climate arm of PR firm Havas, charged with promoting UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s climate summit.

“They say all politics is local – but all communications is local – and that’s particularly true of climate change,” he tells RTCC.

- See more at:

MIT Study: Climate Talks on Path to Fall Far Short of Goals. Here's an excerpt of an article at InsideClimateNews: "...Facing a deadline to reach a new treaty by the end of next year in Paris, the world's nations seem unwilling to make the kind of pledges that would rein in global warming to safe levels by century's end, the researchers concluded. "Our analysis concludes that these international efforts will indeed bend at the curve of global emissions" of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming greenhouse gases, they said. "However, our results also show that these efforts will not put the globe on a path consistent with commonly stated long-term climate goals..."

Water Scarcity and Climate Change Through 2095. Dry areas are, overall, becoming even drier, and access to fresh water will be a defining theme of the 21st century. Things we often took for granted we won't be taking for granted in the years ahead. Just ask a friend living in California. Here's a clip from "...In a first of its kind comprehensive analysis, the researchers, working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, used a unique modeling capability that links economic, energy, land-use and climate systems to show the effects of global change on water scarcity. When they incorporated water use and availability in this powerful engine and ran scenarios of possible climate mitigation policy targets, they found that without any climate policy to curb emissions, half the world will be living under extreme water scarcity..."

Media Gets It Wrong on Mann Suit. Chilling freedom of speech, or a blatant case of libel? Here's one perspective at Daily Kos: "...As Greg Laden points out, the suit is not about scientific criticism, but rather "a very specific and actionable libelous accusation of professional misconduct." Previous courts agreed that this is a valid case, that Steyn's accusations of fraud and manipulation of data aren't just opinion, but an (incorrect) statement of fact. Saying that a scientist is "the Jerry Sandusky of climate science" is an opinion, and not what Dr. Mann is suing over, even though Fox News suggests it is. Instead, the accusation that he "molested and tortured data" is clearly not an opinion on the man or the issue but a claim that many studies reaffirming Mann's findings have shown to be false..."

In a first of its kind comprehensive analysis, the researchers, working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, used a unique modeling capability that links economic, energy, land-use and systems to show the effects of global change on water scarcity. When they incorporated water use and availability in this powerful engine and ran scenarios of possible climate policy targets, they found that without any climate policy to curb carbon emissions, half the world will be living under extreme water scarcity. Some climate mitigation policies, such as increasing growth of water-hungry biofuels, may exacerbate water scarcity.

Read more at: Gets It Wrong on Mann Suit. Chilling freedom of speech, or a blatant case of libel? Here's one perspective at Daily Kos: "...As Greg Laden points out, the suit is not about scientific criticism, but rather "a very specific and actionable libelous accusation of professional misconduct." Previous courts agreed that this is a valid case, that Steyn's accusations of fraud and manipulation of data aren't just opinion, but an (incorrect) statement of fact. Saying that a scientist is "the Jerry Sandusky of climate science" is an opinion, and not what Dr. Mann is suing over, even though Fox News suggests it is. Instead, the accusation that he "molested and tortured data" is clearly not an opinion on the man or the issue but a claim that many studies reaffirming Mann's findings have shown to be false..."

Global Warming Rears It's Ugly Head Around the World - In English. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Guardian: "...However, many Republican politicians are currently frozen with fear on the subject of global warming. Specifically, fear of the Tea Party.

In stark contrast to their party’s public stance on Capitol Hill, many Republicans privately acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity is at least partially responsible for climate change and recognize the need to address the problem ... In Bloomberg BNA interviews with several dozen former senior congressional aides, nongovernmental organizations, lobbyists and others conducted over a period of several months, the sources cited fears of attracting an electoral primary challenger as one of the main reasons many Republicans choose not to speak out.


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