What the Hail is Going On Here?

Are you getting a little sick of repairing or replacing your roof shingles? Homeowners insurance premiums are trending upward, and one big reason is the frequency of extreme weather events.

2018 is likely to be the eleventh year in a row with $10 billion in claims from hail damage in the USA. Meteorologist D.J. Kayser at Praedictix posted a story listing some of culprits: urban sprawl, home sizes, and the cost of roofing materials.

It's too early to know if a warmer, wetter climate is a factor. A study at Nature Climate Change in June 2017 showed that while the number of hailstorms may decrease in a warmer environment, the size of the hail would likely increase.

Dr. Mark Seeley has data showing an increase in cases of large, baseball-size (2.75"+)  hail in Minnesota since 1955.

Our sky should stay sunny and hail-free into midday Sunday with upper 80s today and Saturday. The leading edge of cool relief sparks T-storms Sunday PM, and showers spill over into Monday before we finally dry out.

Weather for the start of the State Fair? Dry with 80s - and a risk of gastric distress. 

Minnesota Hail Trend graphic courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley.

11th Year in a Row of $10 Billion in U.S. Hail Damage? Praedictix meteorologist D.J. Kayser wrote an eye-opening post about hail trends in Minnesota and the United States; here's an excerpt: "...A recent conference in Boulder, Colorado, focused directly on hailstorms. At this conference, Ian Giammanco, a lead research meteorologist of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, said that approximately 70% of severe weather insurance claims filed yearly are from hail damage. Experts say that already in 2018 insured severe weather losses are at $8.22 billion (most of that due to hail damage) and that this year is likely to be the eleventh year in a row with $10 billion in claims from hail damage. Meanwhile, according to Bryan Wood, a meteorologist for Assurant, costly hailstorms have been increasing due to three factors: urban sprawl, home sizes, and the cost of roofing materials. He has more details on that over at the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. Did you know? A study released in Nature Climate Change in June 2017 showed that while the number of hailstorms may decrease in a warmer environment, the size of the hail would likely increase..."

Seasonably Warm Finish to August. GFS forecast data for 500mb winds roughly 2 weeks out show a zonal, west-to-east wind flow aloft, which would tend to favor temperatures at or slightly above average as we end out the month; the worst of the heat staying just south of Minnesota.

NOAA: Milder Than Average Autumn for Most of USA? Blame (or thank) a developing El Nino warm phase in the Pacific, which may keep a mild bias going from September into November. Map courtesy of NOAA CPC.

Smoke From California's Wildfires is Reaching Washington and Baltimore. Jason Samenow reports at Capital Weather Gang: "...The National Weather Service’s smoke report on Wednesday said the fires in both the western United States and western Canada were producing “tremendous amounts of smoke with an enormous area of varying density” over much of Canada and the Lower 48, except for parts of the South. Yet the smoke was not contained to North America. Satellite imagery showed the smoke becoming entrained into the circulation of Subtropical Storm Ernesto in northern Atlantic Ocean. Model simulations even showed some smoke reaching Ireland and the United Kingdom. It is not terribly unusual for smoke in the West to reach the eastern United States. In 2015, smoke from wildfires in western Canada reached the D.C. area..."

Map credit: "Smoke analyzed across the United States, on Wednesday." (Hazard Mapping System via Joel Dreesen).

Wildfires Making Air Worse in West: Climate Nexus has the headlines and links: "Western wildfires are raging hotter and longer, exacerbating air pollution problems in some regions, according to research from Climate Central. The analysis of historic increases in air pollution in Idaho, Oregon, California's Central Valley and Washington finds that while these regions' air quality improved over the past decade or more, the number of days exceeding federal air pollution standards during wildfire season have generally increased. "If it keeps getting like this…I don’t know," Ivy Albert, whose asthma is exacerbated by wildfire smoke, told the Idaho Statesman. “I might just have to leave Idaho." (Idaho Statesman, KQED. Background: Climate Signals)

The U.S. Desperately Needs a Better Way to Predict Storms. One Scientist Might Have a Solution. There is always a better way, argues a story at TIME.com: "...What Lin and his team have done is devise a better, more accurate way for the computer to organize that picture of the atmosphere and how it behaves—the so-called dynamical core of the model. While the current American model uses a “spectral model,” where the atmosphere is represented by mathematical waves, FV3 (“Finite Volume on a Cubed-Sphere”) divides the atmosphere into boxes. Each box of air might be a little different in temperature, humidity, pressure and movement. Each box also acts upon the other boxes touching it, and vice versa. This models the atmosphere more accurately. Lin is proud of this work, and believes that FV3 will significantly up the U.S. meteorology game. “One of our main goals is helping NOAA and the nation have the best forecast humanly possible,” he says. “But it’s certainly a competition around the world...”

Image credit: "An experimental globally uniform ~13 km resolution forecast is made four times a day with the GFS initial conditions from 00Z, 06Z, 12Z, and 18Z.  Additionally, two nested grid forecasts (~3 km resolution over CONUS) are run at 00Z and 12Z.  There are also verification metrics to show how well the model is doing compared to the operational GFS." NOAA GFDL.

New Storm Shelter in Fridley Models Safety for Mobile Homes. The Star Tribune reports on upgraded storm shelters that provide another level of defense for people who live in manufactured housing: "...But soon residents will have a new storm shelter to hunker down in when the clouds portend trouble, with crews breaking ground this week on an aboveground shelter that will double as a community gathering space. The project in Fridley comes at a time of heightened awareness around Minnesota’s storm shelter standards as some push for increased compliance. “This is going to set a precedent for a lot of communities,” Seefeld said. “It’s going to make people extremely aware that their [park] owners have to do something.” State law requires the more than 900 mobile home parks in Minnesota to have either storm shelters or an evacuation plan in place when severe weather strikes. But some parks still may go without or have outdated plans, state officials and manufactured housing advocates say..."

Photo credit: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune. "Natividad Seefeld climbs down into her neighborhood's current, cramped storm shelter as the mobile home park awaits its new shelter's groundbreaking this week. Park Plaza Cooperative mobile home park in Fridley is breaking ground this."

Stronger Hurricanes Becoming the Norm - and That's Stumping Researchers, Meteorologists and Computers. A fluke or a trend? Check out the story at The Post and Courier; here's an excerpt: "...The strongest storms ever recorded emerged in the past few years, including Hurricane Patricia with tornado-like 215 mph winds off Mexico in 2015. Researchers are now eyeing the prospect of that becoming more common. In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report that said while it is too soon to scientifically determine whether climate warming caused by fossil fuel burning was having an impact on hurricanes in the Atlantic, the warming might already have caused changes that “aren’t confidently modeled” in the computers. The new uncertainties leave coastal residents in South Carolina and elsewhere a little edgier as the Atlantic basin moves into the mid-August to mid-October months that normally produce the most — and worst — hurricanes of the season..."

Photo credit: "Neighbors clear debris from the road in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Sept. 7. Hurricane Irma weakened slightly to sustaned winds of 175 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm boasted 185 mph winds for a more than 24-hour period, making it the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean." Ian Brown/AP.

First All-Female Hurricane Hunter Flight Crew Makes History. The Weather Channel reports: "A pair of aviators made history this week by becoming the first all-female flight crew to pilot a Hurricane Hunters mission. On Sunday, Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Waddington and Capt. Kristie Twining took off in their Gulfstream IV jet, nicknamed "Gonzo," toward Hurricane Hector, a Category 4 storm that slowly trekked across the Pacific Ocean, about 300 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii. Sunday's 8-hour mission was no different than any other mission that has helped meteorologists forecast dangerous hurricanes since the 1960s when the program was launched. The only thing that set it apart was its all-female crew, a first in the program's nearly 60-year history..."

Photo credit: "Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Waddington (left) and Capt. Kristie Twining, seen here in the cockpit of a Gulfstream IV "hurricane hunter" jet, became the first all-female crew to pilot a mission." (NOAA)

An Inversion of Nature: How Air Conditioning Created the Modern City. Would Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami or Dubai even exist without the invention of A/C? Probably not. Here's a clip from a story at The Guardian: "...Environmentally speaking, air conditioning is anti-social. It buys its owner comfort at the cost of shifting the surplus heat somewhere else, on to surrounding streets and ultimately into the atmosphere of the planet. The night-time temperature of Phoenix, Arizona, is believed to be increased by one degree or more by the heat expelled from its air conditioning. This is, you could say, the perfectly neoliberal technology, based on division and displacement. According to one theory, air conditioning helped to elect Ronald Reagan, by attracting conservatively inclined retirees to the southern states that swung in his favour..."

Photo credit: "Multiple air-conditioning units on a Tokyo roof." Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA.

Companies Have Bought More Clean Energy This Year, And It's Only August. Earther has details: "...Plucky upstarts like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and AT&T are part of a group fo nearly 60 companies making major investments in renewable energy. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center, they’ve already set an annual record for renewable energy procurements this year with four months still to go in 2018. Companies have made deals to fund 3.86 gigawatts of renewable power in the U.S., enough energy to power nearly 2 million homes. The previous record was set in 2015 when large corporations procured 3.12 gigawatts of renewable energy. The analysis is based on public records like power purchase agreements according to Alex Klonick, an associate at the Business Renewable Center..."

Why Ravaging Heatwaves Matter to the World's Dinner Table. Bloomberg explains: "To see the impact of record-breaking temperatures around the world, watch wheat. Found in everything from bread to noodles, biscuits to cereals, beer to cakes -- there is no more widely grown staple crop and more than 170 million metric tons trade every year. So when the weather ruins harvests in one spot, it can shock markets and economies that are thousands of miles away. It’s a weak global harvest, but not a disaster. The biggest growers -- Russia, Australia and the European Union -- have been hurt by high heat or widespread drought and as a result, the world is heading for the first deficit in six years. While harvests in some places, especially northern Europe, have been terrible and cost farmers billions of dollars, no one is expecting major shortages..."
Photo credit: Shannon VanRaes/Bloomberg.

Netlix, Amazon Video and Xfinity are Accidentally Re-creating Cable TV. The Verge reports on the latest trends: "...To put the scale of the potential threat of cord-cutting in perspective: for more than a year now, Netflix has had more subscribers in the United States than cable television, and the speed of changeover is only increasing. According to eMarketer, an estimated 22.2 million people switched from cable subscriptions to streaming content in 2017, a 33.2 percent growth over the previous year. In theory, the partnership between Comcast and Amazon is a win-win for both parties. Tammy Parker, a senior analyst at GlobalData, echoes that view in a press release about the deal: “It further helps position Comcast as a preferred content curator in the minds of consumers, many of whom are growing fatigued with the dizzying number of choices they have for watching multiple video services over a myriad of devices,” she says. “The deal is also a positive for Amazon, which wants to get as many people watching its content as possible...”

Image credit: Comcast.

Who Killed the Great American Cable-TV Bundle. Have you cut the cord? Here's an excerpt of a post at Bloomberg: "Every minute, another six people cut the cord. The reason American consumers are abandoning their cable subscriptions is not a mystery: It’s expensive, and cheaper online alternatives are everywhere. But who exactly is responsible for the slow demise of the original way Americans paid for television? That’s a far trickier question. The answer can be traced to a few decisions in recent years that have set the stage for this extraordinarily lucrative and long-lived business model to unravel: licensing reruns to Netflix Inc., shelling out billions for sports rights, introducing slimmer bundles, and failing to promote a Netflix killer called TV Everywhere. The TV bundle with hundreds of channels, which took off in the 1990s and was ubiquitous in U.S. homes at the start of this century, has fallen from 100 million to 95 million subscribers in the past five years. This quarter, pay-TV giants such as Comcast, Charter, Dish, and AT&T saw an additional 744,000 subscribers disappear..."

Illustration credit: Joseph Gough.

Vaping can damage vital immune system cells and may be more harmful than previously thought, a study suggests. Researchers found e-cigarette vapour disabled important immune cells in the lung and boosted inflammation. The researchers "caution against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe". However, Public Health England advises they are much less harmful than smoking and people should not hesitate to use them as an aid to giving up cigarettes. The small experimental study, led by Prof David Thickett, at the University of Birmingham, is published online in the journal Thorax...They said some of the effects were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease..."

File photo: Mike Orlov/Shutterstock.

Mexico City Restaurant Busted Over Tarantula Tacos. AP News has the tasty story: "Fancy a tarantula taco for a cool $27? Not so fast, Mexican authorities say. A Mexico City market restaurant recently put the arachnids on its menu and posted a video on Facebook showing a chef torching one until blackened. The only problem: The Mexican red rump tarantula is a protected species. The federal environmental protection agency said Tuesday it was alerted to the situation via social media and seized four tarantula corpses that were ready to be served up on tortillas..."

File photo: Tarantula Heaven.

FRIDAY: Sunny and plenty hot. Winds: N 5-10. High: 89

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and dry. Low: 66

SATURDAY: Blue sky, drier, warmer day of weekend. Winds: SE 3-8. High: 88

SUNDAY: Sunny start, PM T-storms likely. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 69. High: 85

MONDAY: Showers linger, cooling off. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 66. High: 73

TUESDAY: Cool & unsettled, few PM showers. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 61. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and pleasantly warm. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 59. High: 82

THURSDAY: Warm breeze for Day 1 of State Fair. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 63. High: 85

Climate Stories...

Capitalism Can Crack Climate Change. But Only If It Takes Risks. The Guardian has an Op-Ed that resonated with me; here's an excerpt: "...But normally creative destruction takes time, especially if the old guard can marshall sufficient resistance to change – something the fossil fuel industry has been adept at doing. It is vital that capitalism’s Dr Jekyll emerges victorious over its Mr Hyde. More than that, it needs to be an immediate knockout blow. In the past, politicians have only tended to focus on climate change when they think there is nothing else to worry about. Tony Blair, for example, commissioned a report from the economist Nick Stern into climate change during the years before the global financial crisis, when growth was strong and wages were rising. Margaret Thatcher only started to talk publicly about protecting the environment when the economy was booming at the end of the 1980s..."

It's So Freaking Hot, Now What? An interview at FiveThirtyEight caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "...My point here isn’t that conservatives are bad, bad, bad. My point is that we keep having these debates about climate science … while ignoring that what the debate is actually about is political philosophy.

christie: What happened was that climate change became an identity issue. As Dan Kahan at Yale has documented, “What people ‘believe’ about global warming doesn’t reflect what they know; it expresses who they are.”

maggiekb: You can’t show people enough charts to make them believe climate change is a real threat if they feel like accepting what they see in the charts is going to hurt them and their family. And I think that’s the fundamental political problem here. What the corporations did right (for their purposes, not for the planet) is to turn the science (that you can’t argue about) into a proxy for political philosophy (which you can)..."

How Can We Address the Effects of Climate Change on People of Color? Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at The Miami Herald: "...The most at-risk population are poor people. They have the least amount of resources to escape the effects of climate change, by buying products or services to make weathering the changes easier. There is also increasing concern about the concept of “climate gentrification” — low-income residents being pushed out of higher elevation zones in South Florida. But in a region booming with redevelopment and market demand that have rapidly turned once struggling neighborhoods into trendy areas, many factors could be at work, including climate concerns..."

Photo credit: "A man bikes through the flooding in the streets of Sweetwater in October." AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com.

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opinion-influencers/article216228920.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opinion-influencers/article216228920.html#storylink=cpy

Climate Change Will Lock Us Into a Feedback Loop of Stupidity. My favorite headline of the week, courtesy of Vice: "...And so, it seems, we are becoming trapped in a sort of endless feedback loop of stupidity. We've done one very stupid thing (wrecked the environment by burning fossil fuels), and this in turn is making us even stupider. That will breed more stupidity, which will presumably cause us to accelerate climate change further, which will make us still stupider, and so on, until eventually the stupidity becomes so intense that we all simply die. Or, to put it another way: look forward to a good decade of everyone arguing about whether or not the racist things Boris Johnson is saying are racist, while the party he starts leading in a few months enacts various openly racist policies, which the racism of will also, curiously, be a matter for debate, before eventually East Anglia sinks under the waves..."

Trump's Defense Department is Actually Preparing for Climate Change. Happy to see that cooler heads are prevailing at DoD. Earther reports: "...Luckily, the Department of Defense is one of the few federal agencies that still treats climate change as a threat under President Donald Trump. On Monday, the president signed a $716 billion defense bill that Congress passed earlier this summer. It includes plans to prepare current and future military bases and military facilities for “environmental condition projections,” such as sea level rise and increased flooding. There’s also an entire section devoted to the rapidly-melting Arctic, which Russia and China are eyeing to take over. “The Department of Defense is witnessing and really on the frontlines of a lot of these changes,” Femia said. “They’ve got military bases across the world, including at sea level. They’re seeing the effects of flooding. They’re seeing the effects of wildfires and what that does to their own capabilities and priorities...”

Photo credit: "The U.S. is gonna’ need more icebreakers if it wants to compete for military control of the Arctic." Photo: AP.

Newspaper Clipping from 1912 Mentions Link Between Burning Coal and a Warmer Planet. CBS News has the story: "A newspaper blurb published in a 1912 mentions a link between burning coal and a warmer Earth. An Aug. 14, 1912, blurb in the New Zealand newspaper Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette, reads, "The furnaces of the world are now burning about 2,000,000,000 tons of coal a year. When this is burned, uniting with oxygen, it adds about 7,000,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere yearly. This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature. The effect may be considerable in a few centuries..."

Climate Change Cost Could Rise to $1 Trillion During Next Decade. I stumbled upon this article at seattlepi.com: "The extremes and disruptions of climate change could carry a $1 trillion price tag for America during the next decade as droughts, fires and other climate extremes accelerate, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said Monday. Cantwell and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, asked in 2015 that the nonpartisan General Accounting Office do a study on costs of global warming, a task that took two years and delivered a sharply worded report last October. "They said climate change had cost something like $625 billion over a 10-year period, which is about to go up to $1 trillion in the next decade: This is costing us real money," Cantwell said in an interview..."

Photo credit: "JOSHUA TRUJILLO, SEATTLEPI.COM. "A fire burns in the hills around Twisp, Wash. Three firefighters were killed in the inferno. Photographed on Thursday, August 20, 2015."

Humans Are Pushing the Earth Closer to a Climate Cliff. University of St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham has the story for The Guardian: "A new paper, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has received a lot of media attention. The attention is justified because the paper paints a very grim picture of the climate and what humans may be doing to it. In particular, the authors of this study tried to determine the trajectory that the Earth is on so we can predict what the future climate will be. There are many really important insights from this paper. The authors wanted to know how feedbacks in the Earth’s climate will play a role in shaping the climate in the future. By feedbacks, we mean a change in one part of the climate that then causes another change, which in turn may cause another change, and so on, potentially setting up chain reactions..."

Photo credit: "A melt pond on Arctic sea ice in the Central Arctic." Photograph: Stefan Hendricks/Alfred-Wegener-/PA.

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Not A Bad Weekend. Warm With T-Storms Late Sunday