Fine Tuesday. The noon (WeatherTap) visible satellite loop shows a little lake effect (cooler lake water inhibiting cumulus formation), but sunshine should be the rule, a few isolated T-showers possible - but most of us stay dry through Friday morning.
87 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
84 F. average high for July 9.
88 F. high temperature on July 9, 2011.
2012: warmest first 6 months of any year on record. NOAA.
Last 12 months: warmest 1-year period since 1895 across the USA (NOAA).
10 warmest 12-month periods on record for USA (1895-present) all occurred since 2000. Source: NOAA.
71.2 F: average temperature for the contiguous USA during June (2 F above the 20th century average). Scorching temperatures during the second half of the month led many cities to set all-time temperature records.
Hottest heat wave on record for Washington D.C. The scope and intensity of last week's heat was even worse than 1930. Details from The Washington Post below.
134 F. on this date back in 1913 at Death Valley, California - hottest temperature ever observed in the USA.
50% According to a recent survey, nearly 50% of America's weather reporters (including degreed meteorologists) "don't believe in human-induced climate change." More information from "Forecast The Facts".
2,278 daily heat records broken or tied during the first week of July, nationwide.
3,282 daily heat records broken or tied during June across the USA. 173 of these were all-time highs.
9,800 daily heat records broken or tied during June, 1988. Source (and map above): Climate Central - details below.
173 All-Time Records in June. 86 were broken, another 87 were tied. Here's a list from NCDC.
Warmest 12 Month Period In USA - Drought Expands To 56% Of Nation. Here's the latest from NOAA: "The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during June was 71.2°F, 2.0°F above the 20th century average, ranking as the 14th warmest June on record. Scorching temperatures during the second half of the month broke or tied over 170 all-time temperature records in cities across America. June temperatures also contributed to a record-warm first half of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895."
Hot - But Not Record Territory. Relatively comfortable weather lingers into midweek as Canadian air lingers. The best chance of T-storms comes Friday and Saturday, low to mid 90s returning early next week. I don't see 100 degrees, at least looking out 7-8 days. Data above from ECMWF.
“The drought is much worse than last year and approaching the 1988 disaster,” said John Cory, the chief executive officer of Rochester, Indiana-based grain processor Prairie Mills Products LLC. “There are crops that won’t make it. The dairy and livestock industries are going to get hit very hard. People are just beginning to realize the depth of the problem.” - from a Bloomberg Businessweek story on the spreading drought; more information below.
"An Oxfam report also notes that “this could be just a taste of things to come because in the next few decades the build-up of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere could greatly increase the risk of droughts, flooding, pest infestation and water scarcity for agriculture systems already under tremendous stress." - from a story on climate change impacting agriculture and food production from journalstar.com; details below.
"The U.S. Global Change Research Program recently concluded: "Human-induced climate change appears to be well underway in the Southwest." It reported that in the West "both the frequency of large wildfires and the length of the fire season have increased substantially in recent decades, due primarily to earlier spring snowmelt and higher spring and summer temperatures." - from a Huffington Post story on wildfires and climate change; details below.
A Hot Start To July With Local Historical Perspective. The first 8 days were 12-16 F. warmer than average from the Twin Cities on south and east, 18 F. warmer than normal near Madison. Here's a post from the local National Weather Service office: "The first 6 days of July were very hot and humid, not only across the Upper Midwest, but across much of the continental United States. A large upper level ridge expanded across the midsection of the country, and much of the area saw record high temperatures during the heat wave."
Historic Heat Wave In Hindsight: Hottest On Record In Washington D.C., Hotter Than 1930. Here's a fascinating article from Ian Livingston and Jason Samenow at The Washington Post. Comparing apples to apples can be tricky, but these two meteorologists took the time to analyze the data carefully - here's an excerpt of the story: "The average high from June 28 through July 8, 2012 was an astounding 99.5 degrees, besting 1930’s most brutal 11-day stretch (the first big heat wave was 12 days long with a 95 to start) by 0.5 degrees. When considering the average temperature (incorporating low temperatures as well as highs) for these segments of both years, 2012’s lead grows due to warmer overnight temperatures. 2012 finished with an average temperature of 88.0 degrees compared to 1930’s 87.0 over the 11 days."
Graphic credit above: ."
2012 Heatwave Is Historic, If Not Unprecedented. Some perspective is in order - how does our recent heatwave rank with 1988 and the worst years of the Dust Bowl back in the 1930s? Meteorologist Andrew Freedman provides some fascinating details in this Climate Central post; here's an excerpt: "Now that the heat wave has finally subsided, we can begin to take stock of how unusual it really was. There is no question that it was extraordinary in its intensity and geographical scope for so early in the summer season. But was it unprecedented in American history? The short answer is no, it wasn’t unprecedented. The longer answer is that it will go down in history as one of the hottest and longest-lasting early summer heat waves in U.S. history, and by at least one measure, it was the record setter in every sense of the phrase. It was also a clear taste of what’s to come as the climate continues to warm due to manmade global warming."
Graph credit above: "An illustration from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), illustrating how a shift in mean temperature makes warm temperature extremes more likely to occur."
St. Louis Foresters Say Deer Stands, Tree-Cutting And Food Plots Are Getting Out Of Hand On County Land. Here's an excerpt from The Duluth News Tribune: "It used to be that a deer stand was a couple of aspen saplings nailed between two trees, just a place for a hunter to see above the brush for a better shot at a trophy buck. But increasingly across St. Louis County forests, including on public lands, permanent deer stands have become a whole lot more elaborate — some far too elaborate for county land managers. And hunters are cutting more trees near those stands so they can see deeper into the woods."
Photo credit above: "This 20-by-18-foot deer “stand” was built on St. Louis County forestland. County land managers say they want to limit the size and nature of deer stands while banning the cutting of trees for shooting lanes and the planting of food plots." (St. Louis County Department of Lands and Mines photo).
"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A:
"I read your column with interest many mornings in the Strib. I have a deep concern for the environment believing in "creation care" from a Christian viewpoint. I have spent my career working for non-profits - currently am serving a large church in the NW metro - and have limited income but would love to spend some money to save money as well as cut down significantly my family's energy use. But I do care and wonder what I can do? Do you have any website or local organizations that I can look into? Let me know if you have any thoughts for me. Appreciate your blog. I think it would be helpful to offer not only analysis - which is grim - but encouragement to take steps to change the future. One last question. I have a 9 year old who has a huge interest in the weather - mostly out of self preservation (she's afraid of storms) - and she's our weather watcher. Do you ever do introductory teachings on the weather or know how a 9 year old could get a tour or something? We'd love any ideas you have for us."
Brain - thank you for your efforts. I'm a Christian too, and I take my role as a steward of creation seriously. There are some things you can do. Pick up a copy of "Cooler - Smarter" from the Union of Concerned Scientists for practical tips. A pdf sample is here. No, I don't get a commission. Have a goal of reducing your carbon footprint by 20% Tell coworkers, friends and family what you're doing, and why. We need a bottom-up approach. Although governments will ultimately put a price on carbon, true solutions will come from all of us, working together. I understand the reality: climate change is a depressing topic. There is no easy fix, no silver bullet. But there is plenty of (green) buckshot. The only thing we lack is the (political) will to scale these solutions on a national or international scale. But that doesn't mean we can't start now, with our own homes and neighborhoods.
Here is a great interactive web tool from UCS, the Union of Concerned Scientists, to give you more ideas for how you can lower your carbon footprint, while simultaneously saving money:
30 Ways To Foster Progress On A Finite Planet. Here's an excerpt from an Andy Revkin, New York Times post, focused on steps we can all take to live more sustainably. The most important thing we can do: tell our legislators that this topic is important to you and your family. We need to find a market-friendly way of pricing carbon. All of us can take steps to lower our carbon footprint, from weatherizing our homes to driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle: "Orion Magazine, a beautiful and lyrical nonprofit publication, is celebrating its 30th anniversary by publishing “Thirty-Year Plan,” a short book of essays by 30 writers, myself included, who were asked to describe “some thing—emotion, insight, technology, resource, practice, policy, habit, attitude—that’s going to be increasingly essential if humans are going to live comfortably, sustainably, and redeemably on Earth.” (You can sift excerpts from the 30 essays in the Orion slide show above.)"
"That was an interesting piece that you reference (in Monday's weather blog) about the Chicago weatherman inteverviewed on PBS. Not having seen the episode, and not knowing the meteorologists personally, the thought that came to my mind was that perhaps they aren't allowed to talk about climate change as station policy (hmm, perhaps advertisers won't accept it). Is there any other plausible explanation for the collective throwing up of their hands? Can they really not see any link between a heating climate and high-energy weather? I continue to appreciate your thoughtful, insightful and apparently courageous reporting."
Of all the meteorologists in Chicago, the one I have the most respect for is Tom Skilling. To be fair, I don't know his position (wrong word) on climate change. Tom is incredibly bright and well read, I can't believe that he would deny the overwhelming body of science. But here's the deal: local television has become a popularity contest. People watch their favorite anchors, reporters and, yes, meteorologists. Q Scores, a measure of popularity, are critical. On air talent is constantly researched. My previous employer shared bits and pieces of the research - it was pretty clear to me that by taking a stand on climate change I was alienating more conservative viewers.
Climate change is kryptonite for TV meteorologists. By even bringing up the topic you just know that you're going to alienate some percentage of the audience, who still links AGW with Al Gore and "climategate" and conspiracy theories. In the back of our minds: ratings. If 2 out of 10, or maybe 4 out of 10 people are skeptical/resistant to this topic, why even bring it up and risk that...they won't like me? That's the calculus that goes through our minds. If the ratings go down, everyone looks for work. Why risk pissing people off? It's easier sticking with safe topics, like dew point and hot weather survival tips. Easier to joke with the anchorman than bring up a topic that inspires a). dread, and b). rage.
I'm as skeptical as the next guy. In the 80s I thought James Hansen at NASA was over-hyping the role of climate change. But by the mid 90s I was seeing things on the weather maps that fell outside the normal swings of "weather" - stuff I couldn't explain. More intense rains, more hail, fickle winters, higher summer humidities, far fewer arctic outbreaks. I respond to data, and the facts on the ground were telling me that the climate scientists were probably right. The other problem: more TV meteorologists are given 2-4 minutes to report the weather. It's really tough, in that kind of format, to explain climate science and tie it into the regular weather segment. Don Shelby (who was initially skeptical about climate change too) and I tried to reference it from time to time, but again, there was amazing push-back. To their credit, management never said "don't talk about climate change on the air". They never tried to self-censor. But on some level, we just knew that by even bringing it up we'd be accused of "buying into the liberal hype" of AGW. It's really quite amazing. On some level I get it. It's easier to deny than accept the truth, that actions have consequences. Our consumption-based lifestyle and addiction to fossil fuels has warmed the atmosphere, and that has implications. We can still mitigate some of the worst effects in the decades to come, but there's now no doubt in my mind that, as a nation, we're going to have to adapt to this brave new world.
"The main question I have is this: Why are so many weather forecasters in our public media so reluctant to endorse the reality of global warming (climate change)?
A related question: What percentage of forecasters do you estimate support the concept of global warming, and actively inform the public, as you do regularly?
My wife and I very much appreciate your taking a strong position on this topic and continuing to hammer home the reality of global warming, backed up splendidly with scientific data and illustrations. We subscribe to the daily email delivery of Climate Progress, which continues to inform readers of global warming's dire consequences, especially in connection with growing human population, which leads to increased consumption of natural resources.
As avid environmental activists, we are using our musical skills to promote environmental and socio-political concerns, primarily via Eco Songs: Promoting Sustainability Through the Arts. We are also active in spearheading sustainability issues through the Green Committee of our condo association and a newly formed Citizens for Community Resilience and Sustainability group in St. Anthony. A group of five founding members created Insight Forum: Understanding and Preparing for a Future of Converging Crises (a 5-part video on YouTube), which we use as an introductory educational tool.
Please continue your greatly needed leadership in calling attention to this crucial issue. We only hope the mainstream media will get more involved in connecting the dots between global warming, the worldwide economic slowdown, widespread social unrest, and ongoing depletion of natural resources, including energy fossil fuels, arable lands, and wildlife.
Thank you, thank you for all you do!"
Clif and Bettye Ware
Professor Emeritus (voice). University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Thanks Clif and Bettye - very much appreciate the note and words of encouragement. I tried to answer the question as best I can (above). My goal is not to throw any of the local meteorologists in town under the bus. We are blessed to have (real) meteorologists on the air in this market. Belinda, Dave, Chris and Ian are all exceptionally bright and well-informed, but you'll probably have to ask them that question directly. I can't and won't speak for them.
I sense a slow turning of the tide. As I mentioned in a recent column, the weather is accomplishing what climate scientists couldn't: convincing many Americans (those who still respond to logic, reason and data) that something is up - it's not your grandfather's weather pattern anymore. One blazing heat wave doesn't prove anything. But our recent heat is only one puzzle piece. It's an entire orchestra of weather oddities (playing out of tune, and loudly!) The pieces of the puzzle are coming together and most people can see the outline of what is emerging, and it's troubling. It's an accumulation of coincidences, and what's unfolding is precisely what climate scientists predicted more than 30 years ago.
I asked Brad Johnson, from "Forecast The Facts", a relatively new organization pushing the envelope, encouraging all TV meteorologists to report the science, not ideology or political talking points. Here was his response to your question:
"The best information we have about that is from Ed Maibach's 2010 George Mason University poll:
More than half of our respondents (54%) indicated that global warming is happening, 25% indicated it isn’t, and 21% say they don’t know yet. About one-third (31%) reported that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, while almost two-thirds (63%) reported it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment. In addition, Forecast the Facts has compiled a database of 72 local TV meteorologists who publicly question the science of climate change. We don't have a public listing but we do display their comments:
When I was with ThinkProgress, I did research to compile a list of about 50 quotes:"
10 Warmest Years Since 1895 Have Occurred Since 2000. Data from NOAA.
Photo Of The Day: Perfect Ending. Thanks to Brad Birkholz for sharing this pic: "Storm clouds and rainbow over Lake Winnebago as seen from Jefferson Park in Menasha Wisconsin Monday evening."
Rotating Shelf Cloud. Jeff Last at the NWS office in Green Bay snapped this photo yesterday - evidence of possibly severe straight-line winds. Warnings were issued north of Green Bay.
Apple Set To Release "iPad Mini" To Battle Nexus 7? More rumors, speculation and details on a pint-size iPad coming soon? Details from gizmag.com; here's an excerpt: "The trickling of rumors suggesting an iPad Mini is in the works has grown to become a raging torrent, with mainstream sources now seriously reporting on Apple's plans for a smaller iPad. Previously, websites such as Digitimes have been the source of such rumors, but with The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg now on board there seems less and less room for doubt such a device is on its way. Steve Jobs famously expressed his disinterest in the 7-inch tablet form factor on several occasions, eventually publicly ruling out suggestions that Apple was working on one. But with Tim Cook installed as CEO after Jobs' death in 2011 things have changed, no doubt inspired by how the tablet market is growing and evolving over time."
Monday Magic. Low humidity (dew points in the 50s) under a blue sky with a fresh breeze - sounds like a good day to me. Highs ranged from 71 at Grand Marais to 87 at St. Cloud, the Twin Cities and Redwood Falls.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Sunny & pleasant. Dew point: 57. Winds: SE 3-8. High: 85
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear, still comfortable. Low: 64
WEDNESDAY: Warm sun, still quiet. Dew point: 59. High: 87
THURSDAY: Partly sunny, warmer. Dew point: 61. Low: 65. High: 88
FRIDAY: Sticky, stray T-storm. Dew point: 63. Low: 65. High: 87
SATURDAY: Hazy sun, few storms. Dew point: 65. Low: 67. High: 86
SUNDAY: Sunnier, drier, probably hotter. Dew point: 68. Low: 69. High: 90
MONDAY: Sizzling again. More dog days. Low: 71. High: 94
A Sweaty Weatherguy
The heat wave got personal yesterday. Our 25 year old air conditioner died in a screaming blaze of glory. Last week the A/C units in our studios failed, along with 2 emergency generators. What are the odds of that?
Recent heat was historic, but not unprecedented - ranked right up there with 1988 and 1934. Dust Bowl hot. What struck me was not only the scale and intensity of the heat, but that it came so early in the summer season. Dew points are higher now; 70 F. the new summer norm, making for much higher heat indices than during the mega-drought and heat wave of 1988.
Enjoy the fresh Canadian air while you can; no puddles (or wailing sirens) through Friday. A few T-storms are possible by Friday, spilling over into Saturday, but no widespread monsoon rains in sight.
The European (ECMWF) model has been doing a good job tipping me off about upcoming heat spikes some 4-8 days in advance. We may see 90-95 F by the weekend, and the model is hinting at highs in the low to mid 90s again early next week. Not record territory, but hot enough.
30 days above 90 F. this summer? Starting to think so - we're already up to 17 days. Average is 13, if anyone asks. Doubtful.
A mostly-sweaty long range outlook. I'm going old school until further notice. A sturdy fan and a window. I'll be the sweaty weatherguy, pointing toward Canada, hoping for a little relief...
Torrents And Droughts And Twisters - Oh My! Here's a good overview of how a warmer, more energized atmosphere may impact specific weather factors, based on the latest IPCC predictions - courtesy of NCAR/UCAR AtmosNews: "Not all kinds of extreme weather have the same relationship with our atmosphere's increasing burden of greenhouse gas. Below is a summary of what scientists already know and what they're working to nail down, including some conclusions from recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see What is the IPCC?). Click on each label or image to learn more about that phenomenon's links to climate change. For help with the terminology used in IPCC statements, see the quick guide at bottom."
Local View: Climate Change Affecting Food Production. Here's an excerpt from Lincoln's JournalStar.com: "...The bad news now, and into the far future, is that climate change is severely affecting food production across the planet, along with both population increases and rising affluence and diet changes of a growing middle class in emerging economies. Paradoxically, droughts and floods are two of the most damaging aspects of climate change.
Here are some facts:
• The 2011, Texas drought cost a record $8 billion in crop and livestock losses and up to 500 million forest trees died. Urban forests lost another 5.6 million trees, along with $280 million in economic and environmental values.
• Extremely hot summers that once covered less than 1 percent of Earth’s surface (from 1951-1980), “now covers about 10 percent of the land area,” according to one analysis. “We conclude that extreme heat waves, such as that in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, were caused by global warming.”
• The Earth Policy Institute of Washington, D.C., warns that long-term food trends are worrisome, especially for soybeans. In 1955, “China produced the same amount of soybeans it consumed, but since then production has stayed the same and consumption has jumped fivefold.”
Climate Change: Global Warming Is A Fact. Here's an excerpt from an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "At some point we should stop litigating the basic question of whether climate change is happening. Climate change is a fact. The spike in atmospheric CO2 is a fact. The dramatic high-latitude warming is a fact. That the trends aren’t uniform and linear, and that there are anomalies here and there, does not change the long-term pattern. The warming trend has flattened out in the last decade but probably only because of air pollution from Chinese coal-fired power plants or somesuch forcing we haven’t fully discovered (smog is hardly the long-term solution we should be seeking). The broader patterns are clear. Models show the greatest warming spike down the road still, decades hence. Thus in a sense, saying that “this is what global warming is like” whenever we have a heat wave actually understates the problem."
Climate Change Plays A Role In Wildfires - But Not The Only One. A warmer, drier climate is a big contributing factor in the record blazes out west, but not the only one. Here's an excerpt in Time Magazine: "...But as important as global warming is to the raging fires in charred states like Colorado, it’s not the only factor—and no scientist would go so far as to say that climate change had caused one fire or another. While we’re changing the climate—loading the dice, in the climate scientist Michael Mann’s term, to make extreme weather more likely—we’re also changing the situation on the ground, moving ever larger numbers of people into fire-prone zones. It’s as if we’re adding fuel to the fire on both ends—which means we’ll be doubly burned. The great I-News Network has done an excellent job on the wildfires in Colorado, focusing not just on the immediate weather causes and the severe devastation of the fires themselves, but on the policies that have led so many Coloradans to build houses in what’s known as the “red zone”—territory on the edge of the wilderness that is prone to fire. (Hat tip to Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth for pointing out the I-News coverage.)"
Photo credit above: "A helicopter drops water on a wildfire at Waterman Canyon Monday July 9, 2012 in the San Bernardino, Calif., The fire erupted shortly before 2 p.m. Monday along Highway 18 in Waterman Canyon, where residents have been asked to voluntarily leave." (AP Photo/San Bernardino Sun, LaFonzo Carter)
U.S. Official: Higher Ocean Acidity Is Climate Change's "Evil Twin"; Major Threat To Coral Reefs. The story from AP and The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "Ocean acidification has emerged as one of the biggest threats to coral reefs across the world, acting as the “osteoporosis of the sea” and threatening everything from food security to tourism to livelihoods, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Monday. The speed by which the oceans’ acid levels has risen caught scientists off-guard, with the problem now considered to be climate change’s “equally evil twin,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco told The Associated Press."
To Politicians Napping On The Fireline: Wake Up, Smell The Smoke And Act On Climate Change. Here's a snippet from a Huffington Post story: "In 1987, I parachuted in with other smokejumpers to fight an Oregon wildfire that had a lot of folks particularly worried -- and for good reason. It became known as the Silver Fire, the largest in a complex of wildfires ignited by some 1,600 lightning strikes in the parched forests between Northern California and Southern Oregon, requiring what at the time was the largest mobilization of firefighters in U.S. history. The Silver Fire eventually burned about 96,000 acres -- roughly 150 square miles. The following year, Yellowstone burned up. Instead of firefighting that year, I was a Congressional policy analyst working on climate change issues. Given what I'd experienced the year before and what was happening in Yellowstone, I was worried about the future effects of climate change on wildfires."
Photo credit above: "Members of FEMA and the Small Business administration look at a burned home in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Monday, July 9, 2012. Members of FEMA, the SBA and Colorado's Disaster Office assessed damages in the area burned by the Waldo Canyon wildfire." (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)