6th Lowest Arctic Ice Levels On Record. Graph above courtesy of Climate Central; details below.
Cool and Quiet
Considering Colorado's Front Range is digging out from a 1 in 1,000 year flood and a Super Typhoon is steamrolling toward Hong Kong, we don't have much to whine about.
Drought is hanging on like a low-grade fever. I'm hoping we get a few good soakings to replenish topsoil before winter frost freezes the ground in less than 2 months. Gulp.
51 percent of Minnesota is in a moderate drought, down from 55 percent a week ago. But a stain of severe drought stretches from central Minnesota to the northern/eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Remind me not to complain about showers anytime soon.
Today will be a subtle yet blunt reminder that the sun is as high in the sky as it was in late March. Canada is catching a cold, sneezing cool reminders south of the border. Although no hard frosts or f-f-f-flurries are in sight looking out two weeks today will feel like October: a smear of lumpy stratocumulus clouds, a nagging northwest wind whipping up a little early-season wind chill at evening football games.
Blue sky returns this weekend. Your furnace may kick on Saturday, but highs rebound to 70F Sunday; ECMWF model guidance hinting at a few 80s late next week.
At least one more summer relapse.
Shelf Cloud. WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick snapped this shot near his home in Cologne as Thursday morning's squall line approached, cool T-storm outflow carving out a sculpted, fast-moving cloud, hinting at strong straight-line winds. Hail as big as 2" in diameter was reported in Cambridge. A complete list of damage reports from yesterday's storm here, courtesy of NOAA.
Damage Swath. This map, courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service, shows the damage path from yesterday's severe storms, a trail of large hail and strong wind gusts north/west of MSP.
More Whiplash. From flash drought to flash flood. Blink, sneeze, hiccup, and you'll miss the change in the weather. Thanks to Seth Kaplan and the Twin Cities National Weather Service for this image of extensive street flooding in Cambridge Thursday morning.
Thursday Rainfall Amounts. MesoWest data shows .1 to .3" of rain from Thursday morning's squall line, heavier amounts farther north with .73" at Princeton and 1.92" of rain reported at Rush City.
Cool Start - Warm Finish. ECMWF guidance shows 60s today and Saturday, followed b another slow warming trend next week, another run of 70s with a chance of a few 80-degree highs by the end of next week. Our warm dry bias continues for at least another week.
Waves Of Canadian Air. Cool air pushes south into the Midwest and Great Lakes today, preceded by a band of strong T-storms, followed by light jackets and sweatshirts by Saturday morning - pushing into the Northeast by the weekend. Another warming trend returns next week as the jet stream buckles and a ridge of high pressure pushes north. 4 km. temperature forecast courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.
342. August was the 342nd consecutive month in a row of global land/sea temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. I know, just another coincidence. I also try to put this year's Arctic ice loss, not as severe as 2012, into perspective in Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the climate highlights of August. Record heat in Alaska, South Korea, and Australia and Arctic ice melt make weather patterns get stuck. And that's not good for anyone."
Flood Maps, Models Inherently Flawed. One of the many lessons of last week's 1 in 1,000 year flood: every storm scenario is different, making it difficult ot use past storms to predict future worst-case scenarios. Here's an excerpt of an interesting angle on historic Colorado flooding from Boulder Weekly: "Flood experts agree it’s impossible to be 100 percent prepared for natural disasters, but last week’s flooding in Boulder County held some valuable lessons for how to be more ready the next time the waters start rising. They also say that flood modeling and floodplain mapping can only go so far in predicting the paths that the water will take. Each disaster, whether flood or fire, is unique, and when it happens, the silver lining is that it adds to the body of knowledge and historical experience that we rely on for making plans and predictions for future natural hazards. Dave Gochis, a hydrometeorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, says local leaders are vigilant about updating floodplain maps, but those are based on “static depictions” of storms, and “that is very reliant on what happened in the past...”
Fire And Rain, Colorado Edition. The combination of a 14 year drought and recent wildfires may have made a bad situation much worse. Here's a clip from a story at Mother Jones: "...Still, the compounded damages from the cycle of wildfire and flooding could very well be amplified on the Front Range in coming years. Climate models foretell larger regional storms, and scientists have also predicted bigger, more intense wildfires in Colorado's future. "What is that going to mean for the people living in the mouth of these areas?" wonders Hyde. If the 100-year flood that turned Boulder inside out last week is any indication, living at the base of the Rockies—while arguably worth it—isn't getting any less complicated."
Photo credit above: ".
Colorado Floods: What Happens To All That Water? Here's the intro to an interesting story at Live Science: "As flood waters slowly begin to recede from central Colorado, new flood warnings have cropped up downstream in Nebraska. Colorado's South Platte River, which runs northeast from the middle of the state into the southwest corner of Nebraska, has taken the burden of much of the record rainwater that hasn't already seeped into the ground..."
Graphic credit above: Flood Safety. "Boulder's 500-year floodplain. River and flood water eventually discharges northeastward toward Nebraska along the South Platte River."
Into The Wildfire. Here's a clip from an article examining how residents of the west are coping with increasingly large and devastating fires, and what new tools and technologies may help in the years ahead, from the New York Times Magazine: "Lassen Volcanic National Park, in Northern California, consists of more than 100,000 acres of wilderness and woodlands surrounding Lassen Peak, a volcano named for a pioneer and huckster who guided migrants through the area, that last blew its top in 1915, before anybody knew it was an active volcano. Last summer the park, like much of the West, was in the midst of a yearlong drought — which could be more accurately described as the continuation of a decade-long drought that had merely been less severe for a couple of years. A forecast of thunderstorms might seem like welcome news for a firefighter in charge of so many acres of dry forest — parts of the park can get so hot and dry during the summer that rain evaporates before it reaches the trees — but Mike Klimek, the firefighter in charge of the park on July 23, 2012, knew better..."
Atlantic Hurricane Numbers "Linked To Industrial Pollution". Is aerosol pollution making clouds brighter, dampening hurricane formation over the Atlantic in the process? Here's a clip from a recent press release from the UK Met Office: "The paper, published in Nature Geoscience, suggests aerosols may have suppressed the number of Atlantic hurricanes over the 20th Century and even controlled the decade-to-decade changes in the number of hurricanes. Researchers found that aerosols make clouds brighter, causing them to reflect more energy from the sun back into space. This has an impact on ocean temperatures and tropical circulation patterns, effectively making conditions less favourable for hurricanes. This interaction between aerosols and clouds is a process that is now being included in some of the latest generation climate models..."
Mexico Flood: Tourists Evacuated From Acapulco. USA Today has a recap on the historic flooding gripping the western/Pacific coast of Mexico, triggered by a series of tropical storms and weak hurricanes. Once again systems stalled (just like in Colorado), pumping out enormous quanitities of rain in a relatively short period of time: "In the wake of devastating twin storms that have caused more than 80 casualties and left thousands stranded, tourists are being evacuated from flood-ravaged Acapulco, according to a statement by Javier Aluni, Secretary of Tourism for the State of Guerrero. Passengers with previously booked tickets on Aeromexico and Interjet are being shuttled from the Forum at Mundo Imperial directly to planes at Acapulco Alvarez International Airport (ACA) for flights to Mexico City. The Mexican government is operating additional flights from the Pie de la Cuesta Air Force Base. Priority is given to those with urgent medical conditions, the elderly, women and children..."
Photo credit above: "People wade through waist-high water in a store's parking, looking for valuables, south of Acapulco, in Punta Diamante, Mexico, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Mexico was hit by the one-two punch of twin storms over the weekend, and the storm that soaked Acapulco on Sunday - Manuel -re-formed into a tropical storm Wednesday, threatening to bring more flooding to the country's northern coast. With roads blocked by landslides, rockslides, floods and collapsed bridges, Acapulco was cut off from road transport." (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Mesocyclone. Check out this remarkable panorama shot of a spectacular shelf cloud approaching the Omaha office of the National Weather Service.
Hints Of What's To Come. Thanks to the Grand Teton National Park Service for this tweet, which may get snow-lovers excited.
Grand Tetons Looking Even Grander. This may be the only part of the Rockies that reminds me of the Alps in Europe - thanks to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for providing this spectacular photo.
Astronomers Create Detailed 3-D Map Of Milky Way Core. Here is a clip from a fascinating article at gizmag.com: "Astronomers have used data from European Southern Observatory telescopes to create a three dimensional map of the central bulge of the Milky Way. The gigantic cloud at the center of our galaxy contains a staggering 10,000 million stars (or thereabouts) and resides around 27,000 light-years away. Despite the relative proximity of the area, prior to these new studies little had been confirmed concerning its origin and structure. The main problem faced by astronomers when observing the core of our home galaxy is the obscuring cloud of dust and gas that sits between it and the Earth. Clouds such as this are a common obstacle for astronomers, and are particularly common in star formation regions where the scattered materials eventually come together to form new stars..." (Image above: ESO).
Google Vs. Death. Here's a clip from an interesting story at Time Magazine. Google "life extension" and you may find out even more details about the company's plans to let you live to be 125 (if you care to hang around that long). "...At the moment Google is preparing an especially uncertain and distant shot. It is planning to launch Calico, a new company that will focus on health and aging in particular. The independent firm will be run by Arthur Levinson, former CEO of biotech pioneer Genentech, who will also be an investor. Levinson, who began his career as a scientist and has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, plans to remain in his current roles as the chairman of the board of directors for both Genentech and Apple, a position he took over after its co-founder Steve Jobs died in 2011. In other words, the company behind YouTube and Google+ is gearing up to seriously attempt to extend human lifespan..."
* more information on Google's new "Calico" life extension initiative from Gizmag.
My Daughter's Homework Is Killing Me. If you think your kid is getting too much homework on a consistent basis check out this article at The Atlantic.
21 Ways Supermarkets Control Your Mind. Yes, it's a conspiracy - to get me to buy crap I don't need. BuzzFeed has the story - here's an excerpt: "...Slow music makes you shop for longer, whereas classical music makes you spend more. Experiments have also shown that playing French music in the wine aisles increases the sales of French wines..."
European Space Agency Might Send Robot Snakes Into Space. When science fiction catches up with reality: here's an excerpt from a story at The Washington Post: "Researchers at the SINTEF Research Institute in Norway and at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology are working on a feasibility study for the European Space Agency (ESA) to see if snake-like robots could help explore alien planets. They hope that the maneuverability of snake-bots might assist more traditional rovers like Mars Curiosity get access to different soil samples and access tight spots. No word yet on if a robot Samuel L. Jackson will also be developed to respond if the snakes escape onto a spacecraft..."
Climate Change Is Not All Disaster And Uncertainty. How do you quantify uncertainty and attribution when it comes to climate change's impact on extreme weather events? How do you accurately communicate what may be the most complex environmental risk we've ever seen to the media, and ultimately the public? A few interesting ideas in this post from Australia's The Conversation: "How does newspaper coverage affect how we view climate change? A new report has estimated that 82% of articles about climate change are framed in the context of “disaster” and “uncertainty”. The report’s lead author, James Painter, notes that those dominant media frames may be doing us a disservice because the public “finds uncertainty difficult to understand and confuses it with ignorance.” Likewise, “disaster messages can be a turnoff,” and the report therefore suggests that a better framing might involve the language of risk. This, they suggest, would encourage focus on the trade-off between the risk – and cost – of inaction, and of climate mitigation..." (Image: NASA).