Hot Flash

Stick popcorn in the microwave for a minute or two and things start to get interesting. Today the atmosphere oozing overhead will resemble a giant microwave; the combination of heat and humidity will make it feel like 95-100F by late afternoon. Intense heating, coupled with strong instability and a deep layer of moisture-rich air will set off strong thermals capable of mutating into towering cumulonimbus, kernels of moisture and energy popping 10 miles high by the dinner hour.

NOAA SPC has much of Minnesota in an "enhanced risk" of severe storms; an elevated risk of damaging winds and large hail by tonight.

Warm frontal boundaries in midsummer are breeding grounds for MCS-type storms: meso-convective systems; intense nighttime squall lines capable of frequent lightning and high winds. Conditions are ripe for an MCS or even a longer-tracking derecho tonight.

A Heat Advisory is in effect. Stay hydrated - take it easy out there. A sticky, tropical week is shaping up with a few swarms of T-storms. Both NOAA & ECMWF guidance print out over 2 inches of rain between now and next weekend.

Prediction: severe storms tonight will turn many of us into nervous, wide-eyed kids.

Ripe For Severe. Here is the 00z NAM guidance from NOAA, showing a lifted index value of -13 by 7 PM this evening and a cape (a measure of instability) over 5,000 by evening. 2,000 to 3,000 is considered unstable. There may be enough explosive upward motion within a few supercells out ahead of the main squall line or MCS to spin up a tornado or two, but the primary risk is hail and damaging straight-line winds. And even some flash flooding. The model prints out 2.64" of rain at MSP by midnight tonight.

Hot Rock & Roll. In response to today's hot front the atmosphere will be rocking and rolling by evening, strong overturning initiating a line of strong to severe thunderstorms capable of large hail and damaging winds. I do expect watches and warnings, mainly after 5-6 PM or so with the risk increasing as the evening goes on. Details from the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service.

Heat Advisory. O.K. A few months ago we were complaining about the chill. The heat index, factoring temperature and dew point, will be in the danger zone for a few hours late this afternoon but we've seen far worse. Details from the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service:


Enhanced Risk of Severe Thunderstorms. NOAA SPC has much of central and southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin in an enhanced risk, meaning a higher threat of storms capable of damaging winds and hail. The combination of very high dew points and strong instability will spawn storms capable of forming an MCS or even a derecho later today and especially tonight. Stay alert for watches and warnings later today.

Ripe for T-storms. Most of the ingredients for heavy weather are in place: high cape values (extreme instability), high dew points in the 70s, a warm frontal boundary, and sufficient low-level jet stream winds capable of initiating severe storms this evening and tonight. Once a squall line of storms forms prevailing winds will push it southeastward, across Wisconsin toward Chicago on Monday. That warm frontal boundary remains nearby into midweek, keeping random (mainly PM) T-storms in the forecast. NAM model: NOAA.

Taking The Edge Off The Heat. 500 mb winds, valid Friday evening, July 24 show cooler air brushing the northern tier states of the USA, while excessive to record heat sizzles California to the eastern seaboard. There are no signs of extended heatwaves impacting Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Mississippi Valley into late July, prime time for excessive heat. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

El Nino Helps Boost Pacific Storm Season. Warmer waters in the western Pacific seem to be adding fuel to the fire this year - here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "Satellite views of the Pacific Ocean show an impressive trail of storms, strung like pearls on a necklace across the basin. While the western Pacific in particular is almost always a hotbed of tropical cyclone activity, this current flare-up is linked in part to a robust El Niño event that is showing signs it could continue to strengthen. There are four tropical cyclones (the generic term for hurricanes and typhoons) in the Pacific, with a fifth on the verge of forming. The spectacle has tropical meteorologists marveling over the satellite images, as so many storms at one time, while not unprecedented, is somewhat unusual..." (July 7 image: NOAA).

Japan's New Satellite Captures An Image Of Earth Every 10 Minutes. Not to be outdone, NOAA's new GOES-R launches in late 2016 or early 2017. Here's an excerpt of a story focused on Japan's new weather satellite from The New York Times: "...Locked into a stationary orbit above New Guinea, the satellite takes 144 photographs of the entire planet a day, three times as many as its predecessor. The images show how weather systems evolve and help forecasters develop more nuanced models of Earth’s atmosphere..."

Denmark's Wind Farms Generated 140% Of The Country's Energy Needs last Thursday. Here's an excerpt of a story at Quartz: "An unusually windy day gave Scandinavia another chance to show off its global superiority in clean energy yesterday. On July 9, Denmark’s wind farms generated more than enough power to meet nationwide electricity demands—with a 16% surplus of energy during the day and a whopping 40% surplus overnight. The extra energy didn’t go to waste; it was exported to Germany, Norway, and Sweden via interconnectors between the countries’ electricity grids..." (Image: EPA, Morton Stricker).

The Apple Watch And The Rise Of The Personal Cloud. Machines talking to machines? What can possibly go wrong? Here's a clip from an interesting story and perspective at Quartz: "...While early consumer smartwatch applications have focused on fitness tracking and messaging, the more powerful capabilities—for entertainment, medicine, and life in general—could come when millions of people are each carrying around several devices and sensors. Today, that includes earphones, Bluetooth hearing aids, wireless heart-rate monitors, and running-shoe sensors. Soon, it could include clothing with sensors built in to their fabric—already in the works, but not yet mainstream—and sensors implanted in the body..."

Lyme Disease Is Spreading Faster Than Ever And Humans Are Partly To Blame. Chances are you know someone who has experienced a nasty tick bite, one resulting in Lyme Disease. Quartz takes a look at the trends; here's a clip: "...Though biologists haven’t been tracking white-footed mice numbers very consistently, a study in Minnesota (pdf, p.196) suggested rising abundance since the 1980s. In Pennsylvania, they’re sometimes known as the state’s “most successful mammal.” The milder temperatures caused by global warming are likely a factor paving the way for the blacklegged tick’s ongoing northern invasion. But our rapidly changing climate also seems to be making it easier for Lyme to spread, by shifting when blacklegged ticks typically feed..." (Animation: Lyme Disease Incidence, 2001-2013. CDC).

ESPN Tightens Its Belt As Pressure On It Mounts. Even mighty ESPN is feeling the shockwaves pushing through the media business. How we consume television is evolving, and the bundle is in grave peril. Here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: "Sports-TV powerhouse ESPN, a profit machine that has long towered over the media landscape, is showing signs of stress as the pay-TV industry goes through an unprecedented period of upheaval. A decline in subscribers as customers trim their cable bills, coupled with rising content costs and increased competition, has ESPN in belt-tightening mode, people familiar with the situation say. The company, majority owned by Walt Disney Co., has lost 3.2 million subscribers in a little over a year, according to Nielsen data, as people have “cut the cord” by dropping their cable-TV subscriptions or downgraded to cheaper, slimmed-down TV packages devoid of expensive sports channels like ESPN..."

My Kind of Farming. Nothing like fresh strawberries on your cereal or sundae, and the best way to ensure fresh is to pick them yourself. I was up at Wallin's Berry Farm east of Nisswa Saturday morning before it got too hot. Not a bad way to waste a couple hours.

82 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.

84 F. average high on July 11.

81 F. high on July 11, 2014.

July 11, 1903: The temperature plummets down to 26 at Leech Lake Dam.

TODAY: Partly sunny, hot and very humid. Feels like 95-100F by late afternoon. Dew Point: 73. Winds: S 10-15. High: 91

SUNDAY NIGHT: T-storms likely, some severe with high winds, torrential rains and frequent lightning. Low: 73

MONDAY: Still tropical with late PM storms. High: 91

TUESDAY: Ditto: AM sun, few PM T-storms. Wake-up: 72. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: A dry day? Warm, smoky sunshine. Wake-up: 70. High: 84

THURSDAY: Hazy sun, late-day T-storm possible. Wake-up: 68. High: 86

FRIDAY: Steamy and sticky, feels like July. Wake-up: 70. High: 90

SATURDAY: Wetter day? T-storms likely. Wake-up: 72. High: 88

Climate Stories...

The Climate Deception Dossiers: Internal Fossil Fuel Memos Reveal Decades of Corporate Disinformation. Why would they do that? Why would they condone confusion, misinformation, spin and conspiracy theories? Let's all ponder that one. Here's an excerpt of a powerful series from The Union of Concerned Scientists: "For nearly three decades, many of the world's largest fossil fuel companies have knowingly worked to deceive the public about the realities and risks of climate change. Their deceptive tactics are now highlighted in this set of seven "deception dossiers"—collections of internal company and trade association documents that have either been leaked to the public, come to light through lawsuits, or been disclosed through Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests. Each collection provides an illuminating inside look at this coordinated campaign of deception, an effort underwritten by ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell, Peabody Energy, and other members of the fossil fuel industry..."

Summer Precipitation Trends. I was surprised to see drying over northeastern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, bucking the general trend of wetter weather east of the Rockies. Here's an excerpt of an explainer at Climate Central: "For most of the nation, summer weather has been changing over the past four decades or so — in ways climate scientists say are consistent with what they’d expect in a warming world. The most obvious change is in summer temperatures where most of the continental U.S. has been heating up. With precipitation, the picture is more mixed: most of the West has gotten drier since 1970, while the Northeast, Southeast and northern Great Plains have gotten wetter. This is also consistent with what climate scientists expect in a warming world..."

Climate Change: The Moral Challenge of our Time. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Bishop Wolfgang Herz-Lane at The Baltimore Sun: "...In the encyclical, Pope Francis states "Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years." Like all people everywhere, we live from and rely on the health and well-being of God's creation — air, water, land, animals and the world's interconnected ecosystems. Stewardship of the earth was one of the first tasks God gave to us. "Living our vocation to be protectors of God's handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience," the pope states..."

God's Mandage For The Environment. The Vancouver Courier has the story - here's an excerpt that made me sit up a little straighter: "...He admits that these attitudes toward the environment are new, but credits changing realities. A century or more ago, humans were afraid of the violent predators in the dark wild, what Allore quotes Tennyson as calling "Nature, red in tooth and claw." Humans felt a need to control nature, he says, not coexist with it. But when, as in the last several decades, our ability to control nature expanded into an industrial scale that can overwhelm the Earth, a new theology is required, one that hearkens back, he says, to the earliest chapters of the Bible, in which humans are placed in a garden and given stewardship..."

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Severe Threat Upgraded to "Moderate" - Major Outbreak Likely By Evening