Best Day of the Year to Get a Sunburn

Technological innovation and real-time dissemination of storm warnings is saving lives. According to Ben Carlson, the number of deaths from natural disasters is 25 percent of what it was 100 years ago. By his calculations, since 1900 there has been a 37-fold decline in the odds of an American being killed by lightning. Weather risk will never go away, but there has been progress.

The Summer Solstice kicked off at 5:07 AM as the sun's direct rays fell on the Tropic of Cancer. It's the longest day of the year with 15 hours, 37 minutes of daylight.

Meteorological Summer, marking the start of the 90 warmest days of the year, kicked off on June 1 - but the hottest weather of summer usually arrives first or second week of July.

Rain brushes far southern Minnesota today, and a few pop-up T-storms may sprout Sunday afternoon. But the weekend looks pretty nice, with enough sun for low 80s.

Vaguely interesting, but what about the 4th of July - peak summer? Models show 90s just south and west of Minnesota, with 80s and generous sunshine close to home.

I think we can all live with that.

Image credit above: NASA.

Max Daylight. Thanks to climate guru Brian Brettschneider for sharing this graphic with us.

84-Hour Rainfall Potential. NAM guidance from NOAA prints out some 1-4" amounts for far southern Minnesota by tonight; the best chance of a few Sunday T-storms closer to Duluth and the North Shore. Map:

Sizzling July 4th for Much of USA. It looks like 90s, even a few 100s over the southern Plains the first week of July, with baking heat for much of the nation. The only exception may be Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, as a series of slightly cooler fronts take the edge off the worst of the heat.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Wednesday, June 20th, 2018:

  • Three different Flash Flood Emergencies have been issued as of 8 AM Wednesday morning across parts of southern Texas due to flash flooding and submerged cars from recent heavy rain.
  • Heavy rain will continue across southeastern Texas today, with at least an additional widespread 2-5” of rain expected. However, isolated 6-8”+ one-day totals are still possible, especially in areas that see persistent rain bands and/or stronger storms that produce rainfall rates of up to 4” per hour.

Past 48 Hour Rainfall. Very heavy rain continues to fall across parts of southeastern Texas this morning. Some of the highest totals have come out of the Corpus Christi/Port Aransas and Harlingen/Weslaco areas, which have received over a half of foot of rain since Monday morning. In Weslaco, 9.39” of rain has fallen in the past two days (as of 8 AM), with 9.02” of that falling since midnight today alone. Port Aransas has recorded 8.40” since midnight today for a 48-hour total of 11.44”. These areas are where we are seeing flash flooding this morning.

Numerous Flash Flood Emergencies In Effect. Due to the heavy rain and flash flooding, several Flash Flood Warnings have been issued this morning across parts of southern Texas. Of even greater concern are three Flash Flood Emergencies that are in effect due to numerous reports of roads covered in water and vehicles submerged. Flash Flood Emergencies are more serious and life-threatening than traditional Flash Flood Warnings, as they are indicative of widespread flash flooding that will cause significant/catastrophic impacts to property and life. These Flash Flood Emergencies were in effect for:

- Port Aransas until 9:30 AM
- Eastern Hidalgo and Northwest Cameron County until 10:30 AM
- Southeastern Hidalgo County until 11:15 AM

Continued Heavy Rain Wednesday. Today will likely be the last day of very heavy rain across southeastern Texas, with additional widespread rain amounts of 2-5” expected. However, isolated 6-8”+ one-day totals are still possible, especially in areas that see persistent rain bands and/or stronger storms that produce rainfall rates of up to 4” per hour. As we head into Thursday the slow-moving low responsible for this heavy rain will start to sink south, with the heaviest of the rain tapering off through the day across the region.

Flash Flood Watches. Flash Flood Watches continue throughout Wednesday across portions of southeastern Texas into southwestern Louisiana and into Thursday across far southern Texas. This is where some of the more intense rain has fallen the past few days and will continue to do so today. In the stronger storms, rainfall amounts could exceed 3” per hour. However, due to the recent rain the past couple days, even if total rainfall amounts today are only 1-3” that would be enough to cause more flooding.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

El Nino Watch. According to NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) there is a 50% probability of an El Nino warm phase developing by autumn; a 65% probability of a warm phase in the Pacific next winter. El Ninos correlate with generally milder (drier) winters for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, but there are exceptions to every rule.

Australia Bureau of Meteorology Confirms El Nino Watch. Here's more from BOM: "...Oceanic indicators are currently neutral—neither El Niño nor La Niña—but show some signs of potential El Niño development. Sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean, though currently neutral, have been slowly warming since April. Importantly, waters below the surface of the tropical Pacific are now warmer than average—a common precursor to El Niño. The majority of international climate models surveyed by the Bureau forecast the tropical Pacific Ocean will continue to warm but stay in the neutral range during July and August. However, five of eight models indicate the ocean warmth is likely to reach El Niño thresholds in the southern hemisphere spring, while a sixth model falls just short..."

Father's Day Weekend Heat and Heavy Rain: June 15-17, 2018. The Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service has an explainer; here's a clip: "...The inclement weather brought welcomed rains to much of Minnesota, but also produced pockets of extreme rainfall and flash-flooding. Approximately 70% of the state received over two inches of rain for the week ending the morning of Monday June 18, and a large area covering much of western, central, and northeastern Minnesota received at least three inches of rain. The heaviest rains occurred during the evening of Saturday June 17th , with several inches or more falling from the Mille Lacs and eastern Brainerd Lakes area into northwestern Wisconsin, where 6-10” totals produced catastrophic flooding. The heaviest rains in Minnesota fell where observers are sparse, along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border south of Duluth. The largest 4-day totals (June 15-17) observed by National Weather Service volunteers in Minnesota include 8.08" in Bruno, 6.06” in Two Harbors, 5.37” at Island Lake, and 5.01” at Moose Lake..."

Trump's Pick to Lead Weather Agency Spent 30 Years Fighting It. Bloomberg Businessweek has some background and perspective; here's an excerpt: "...After the bill’s collapse, Barry, now AccuWeather’s chief executive officer, took a more conciliatory approach, proselytizing about the need for all parties involved in forecasting—the government, academics, businesses—to collaborate. Yet he remains a champion of limiting the agency’s public role, opposing its use of social media to spread warnings. “We fear that he wants to turn the weather service into a taxpayer-funded subsidiary of AccuWeather,” says Richard Hirn, attorney for the National Weather Service Employees Organization. Myers may soon be in a position to do that. In October 2017, President Trump nominated him to be NOAA’s administrator. In December the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which oversees the NWS, approved him on a party-line vote. “If confirmed, I think he will serve as an outstanding administrator,” Senator Patrick Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said when he introduced Myers at his November confirmation hearing..."

File image:

Hurricane-Proof Homes Are Real. Why Isn't Anyone Buying Them? Bloomberg has an interesting story: "...Of the roughly 800,000 single-family houses built last year, the Census Bureau reports just eight percent had concrete frames — one of the main ways architects and engineers toughen structures against extreme weather. Even more basic advances have been slow to get adopted. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, an industry research group that Wright now heads, created a set of construction standards in 2008 called “Fortified,” which exceed the building code to certify at a minimum that a home’s roof won’t fly off or leak in a hurricane, regardless of its material. In 10 years, only 8,126 U.S. homes have achieved that designation..."

Photo credit: "At developer Eric Soulavy's condominium project in Key Largo, Florida, prices start at $5 million." Photographer: Alicia Vera/Bloomberg.

Some Survivors of Category 5 Hurricane Irma Want a Category 6. NPR has the story; here's a clip: "...But, he and many others in the Virgin Islands believe Irma should have been designated as a Category 6 storm. Currently, the Saffir-Simpson scale, developed in the early '70s by two scientists after whom it was named, only goes up to Category 5, for storms with winds of 157 mph or higher. Scientists say there's evidence hurricanes are getting stronger because of climate change. A new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research says with rising global temperatures, hurricanes may bring more rain, move more slowly and have higher wind speeds. With that in mind, Mike Mann, an atmospheric science professor at Penn State University, thinks it's time to add a new designation, Category 6, to describe more powerful hurricanes, like Irma..."

File image: September 7 image of Hurricane Irma courtesy of NOAA.

Rising Seas Could Wipe Out $1 Trillion Worth of U.S. Houses and Businesses. The extended outlook calls for a slow retreat from many coastal communities. Eric Holthaus reports on new research at Grist: "Some 2.4 million American homes and businesses worth more than $1 trillion are at risk of “chronic inundation” by the end of the century, according to a report out Monday. That’s about 15 percent of all U.S. coastal real estate, or roughly as much built infrastructure as Houston and Los Angeles combined. The sweeping new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists is the most comprehensive analysis of the risks posed by sea level rise to the United States coastal economy. Taken in context with the lack of action to match the scale of the problem, it describes a country plowing headlong into a flood-driven financial crisis of enormous scale..."

File image: Matt Merrifield, AP.

What Alabama Can Teach You About Storm Resilience. Next City has an encouraging post - here's an excerpt: "...He’s not just talking about Alabama. “How should Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Virgin Islands, Key West build back?” says Schneider. “Should we build back cheap, and let it blow away again, or should we build it up, or not build back at all?” Schneider believes it’s a decision every community should make for itself. To that end, in 2009, he founded a nonprofit, Smart Home Alabama, with some of his own money and a grant from the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, a federal/state partnership. He wanted to introduce a framework for a community who “couldn’t spell resilience” to eventually embrace it. Schneider wanted insurance agents and local builders to start talking. If builders constructed resilient buildings that could withstand more damage, and insurance companies agreed to reduce premiums for more weather-resilient homes, it would incentivize resiliency for homeowners..."

Photo credit: "A new home under construction in coastal Alabama, being built to modern storm resilience standards." Photo by Emily Nonko.

Tornado Tourism Booms Despite Despite Storm Season. U.S. News delves into the wild world of super-sized storm chasing: "...One specific place that has benefited from the lack of severe weather in 2018 is the "Twister" Museum in Wakita, Oklahoma, as chasers head there on slow weather days. The museum opened immediately after the release of the 1996 film, which made $500 million at the box office and inspired thousands of future chasers. "'Twister' was just such a big economic boost for us and it wouldn't have been possible without the storm chasers," says Linda Wade, who serves as head of the museum. "It's just really hard to believe. It brings taxes, it brings economic benefits to our businesses and keeps our banks open, so it's been very helpful in the long run." The museum, a little more than 100 miles from Oklahoma City, remains an active spot for chasers and severe weather enthusiasts to pay homage to the movie that inspired them through its protagonist, the late actor Bill Paxton..."

Photo credit: Brett Ziegler for USN&WR.

"We Just Drove Straight to the Storm". CU Boulder Flies Drones in Supercell Storms. You could definitely see this coming! Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at Boulder Daily Camera: "...It's still very much an open question of: Why does this type of storm become a tornado?" Frew said. "Most of the strong, violent tornadoes are created from supercell thunderstorms, but very few supercell thunderstorms create tornadoes. You know what storms to go study, but you still don't know why they do or don't produce tornadoes." The CU team members brought three yellow drones — named Twistors — they built to collect the data the meteorologists requested: the pressure, temperature and humidity of the air and the speed and direction of the wind. The drones look like small airplanes and have propellers on each wing. Sensors are embedded in the nose of the plane, and a video camera is embedded in the tail..."

After Hurricane, Would You Prefer AC or a Charged Cellphone. Survey Answer May Surprise You. Sun Sentinel has an interesting story - here's an excerpt: "In the hot and dirty days after a hurricane sweeps through Florida, which conveniences would be most important to you? According to a new hurricane preparedness survey commissioned by the FAIR Foundation, internet access would be one of the most-missed amenities. Asked to choose which of two conveniences they would prefer in the four days after a hurricane, 83 percent of respondents chose web access to cable TV access, which was preferred by 17 percent. Sorry, CNN and Fox News. Apparently most respondents would rather surf the web while using rabbit ears to watch local TV..."

The Weather Channel's Mixed Reality Tornado Lesson Was Actually Fun. So says Engadget, which links to a video that integrates immersive reality: "This morning, The Weather Channel debuted the first of its upcoming slate of immersive, mixed reality (IMR) content that's meant to let "viewers truly see the weather like never before". In this segment, meteorologist Jim Cantore explained the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale that's used to categorize tornadoes. Throughout the 7-minute segment, he dodged faux flying debris and falling cars, making the segment seem not only more relatable, but also entertaining. I wasn't expecting to be as engrossed as I was when I started watching the show. In fact, the first time the IMR effects appeared, I actually laughed at how ridiculous it looked..."

The Future of Television? Is this a fad, like 3-D was, or a trend? More perspective on immersive television from Capital Weather Gang: "...The Weather Channel announced its partnership with the Future Group, an augmented-reality technology company, in April. The products these companies are building together allow two worlds to merge into one broadcast. The new technology allows people to interact with digital objects that become a part of the studio environment. Mike Chesterfield, director of weather presentation at the Weather Channel, spearheaded this months-long effort that culminated in what viewers saw Wednesday. He plans to implement the technology in 80 percent of the Weather Channel’s live programming by 2020. “We want to transport our audience into the heart of the weather,” said Michael Potts, vice president of design for the Weather Group..."

Viruses Love What We've Done With the Planet. Quartz explains the paradox: "...Viruses have a straightforward mission: enter cells, reproduce, burst forth, and repeat. The constant copying eventually destroys so many cells, whatever living thing is acting as the virus’s host will fall ill. That’d be one thing—bad, but not devastating—if these viruses stayed the same as they perpetuated. Then we could likely, eventually, create vaccines for all of the viruses that infect humans. But, as viruses copy themselves using the machinery of their host’s cells, they constantly mutate. Inevitably, some of these mutations are advantageous, enabling the virus to, for example, spread faster or infect a new type of host. Thanks to mutations, there are over 200 “zoonotic” viruses that can jump between animals and humans, including notorious infections like HIV, Ebola, hepatitis, hanta virus, and several strains of the flu. These are the ones we’re not ready for..."

File photo credit: "Thanks to us, Ebola has lots of places to live." (NIAID)

IBM's Machine Argues, Pretty Convincingly, With Humans. Do we really need more arguing at this point? BBC reports: "On a stage in San Francisco, IBM’s Project Debater spoke, listened and rebutted a human’s arguments in what was described as a groundbreaking display of artificial intelligence. The machine drew from a library of “hundreds of millions” of documents - mostly newspaper articles and academic journals - to form its responses to a topic it was not prepared for beforehand. Its performance was not without slip-ups, but those in attendance made clear their thoughts when voting on who did best. While the humans had better delivery, the group agreed, the machine offered greater substance in its arguments..."

Image credit: "Project Debater: Watch IBM's new AI argument machine in action."

100 Greatest YouTube Videos Of All Time. If you have some serious time to waste go ahead and browse the videos listed at Thrillist: "...In compiling this all-important ranking, we traveled back to the dawn of YouTube (2005!) and worked our way forward, amassing a daunting trove of links and whittling them down to the absolute best, funniest, most subversively "online" 100 videos. We largely avoided music videos, web series, tutorials, and sketch comedy, wells so deep they deserve separate rankings of their own. And with apologies to the TGIF theme song guy, we also stuck to bona fide YouTube hits. As you scroll through the cavalcade of videos on this list, you'll encounter viral videos you definitely remember, viral videos you definitely forgot, selections that have aged like fine wines, and a few relics from less enlightened times that, on their own terms, still have merit..."

Image credit: Fredy Delgado/Thrillist.

80 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

80 F. average high on June 20.

76 F. high on June 20, 2017.

June 21, 1989: Fairmont has a wind gust of 76 mph during a severe thunderstorm.

THURSDAY: Showers south, sun north. Winds: E 8-13. High: 76

THURSDAY NIGHT: Slow clearing. Low: 63

FRIDAY: More sunshine, trending warmer. Winds: E 5-10. High: 82

SATURDAY: Warm sunshine, few complaints. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 64. High: 83

SUNDAY: Some sticky sun, risk of a T-storm. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 66. High: 84

MONDAY: Slight risk of a shower or T-storm. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 65. High: 82

TUESDAY: Heavier showers and storms possible. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 64. High 78

WEDNESDAY: Showers taper as skies clear. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 64. High: 87

Climate Stories....

Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implication for U.S. Coastal Real Estate. The Union of Concerned Scientists makes a fairly convincing case for not buying real estate next to the ocean anytime soon; here's an excerpt: "...The analysis finds that:

  • More than 300,000 of today's coastal homes, with a collective market value of about $117.5 billion today, are at risk of chronic inundation in 2045—a timeframe that falls within the lifespan of a 30-year mortgage issued today. Approximately 14,000 coastal commercial properties, currently assessed at a value of roughly $18.5 billion, are also at risk during that timeframe.
  • By the end of the century, homes and commercial properties currently worth more than $1 trillion could be at risk. This includes as many as 2.4 million homes—the rough equivalent of all the homes in Los Angeles and Houston combined—that are collectively valued today at approximately $912 billion..."

Photo credit: Will Brown.

Global Warming, Now Brought To You By Your Local TV Weathercaster.  It seems that America's meteorologists are (finally) working up the courage and will to connect the dots and talk about climate volatility and weather disruption. Great graphics from Climate Central have helped them tell the story, as reported by NBC News: "...The friendly neighborhood meteorologist — found in a 2010 poll to be more skeptical than the general public about global warming — has rapidly evolved to not only accept climate change but to share the news with audiences in hundreds of U.S. television markets. Key to the shift has been Climate Central, the nonprofit that helped school LaPointe. The Princeton, New Jersey-based organization sponsors classes and webinars for meteorologists and also shares real-time data and graphics with TV stations. The group has reached more than 500 local TV weathercasters — about a quarter of those working in the U.S. — since it started its “Climate Matters” education program in 2012, and it is expanding this week to a wider group of journalists..."

Global Warming Cooks Up a Different World Over 3 Decades. AP News has the story and some perspective: "On June 23, 1988, a sultry day in Washington, James Hansen told Congress and the world that global warming wasn’t approaching — it had already arrived. The testimony of the top NASA scientist, said Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley, was “the opening salvo of the age of climate change.” Thirty years later, it’s clear that Hansen and other doomsayers were right. But the change has been so sweeping that it is easy to lose sight of effects large and small — some obvious, others less conspicuous. Earth is noticeably hotter, the weather stormier and more extreme. Polar regions have lost billions of tons of ice; sea levels have been raised by trillions of gallons of water. Far more wildfires rage. Over 30 years — the time period climate scientists often use in their studies in order to minimize natural weather variations — the world’s annual temperature has warmed nearly 1 degree (0.54 degrees Celsius), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And the temperature in the United States has gone up even more — nearly 1.6 degrees..."

Photo credit: "In this Dec. 5, 2017 file photo, smoke rises behind a destroyed apartment complex as a wildfire burns in Ventura, Calif. In the 30 years since 1988, the number of acres burned in the U.S. by wildfires has doubled." AP photo: Noah Berger, File.

Climate Change May Already Be Hitting the Housing Market. A story at Bloomberg shows recent trends: "...Between 2007 and 2017, average home prices in areas facing the lowest risk of flooding, hurricanes and wildfires have far outpaced those with the greatest risk, according to figures compiled for Bloomberg News by Attom Data Solutions, a curator of national property data. Homes in areas most exposed to flood and hurricane risk were worth less last year, on average, than a decade earlier...Asaf Bernstein, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who has studied the drop in home prices associated with sea-level rise, said it’s not surprising that home values would be affected by other types of climate risk. “It’s not a question of if,” Bernstein said. “It’s a question of when.”

In a Warming World, Deadly Bacteria Are More Resistant to Antibiotics. Here's another little day-brightener, courtesy of Nexus Media: "...But his near-death experience from a superbug he picked up in a warm country — an organism that also has afflicted many hospitalized wounded troops in Iraq and Kuwait — raises provocative questions about drug-resistant bacteria and their relationship to our increasingly hotter planet. “Travelers returning from tropical and other warm areas where multi-drug resistant pathogens have become more widespread will increasingly challenge the antibiotics on our shelves,” said Robert T. Schooley, an infectious diseases specialist at UC San Diego, who treated Patterson. “Turning up the temperature of the incubator in which we live will clearly speed the evolutionary clock of bacterial and other pathogens with which we must co-exist...”

File photo: E. coli bacteria. Source: NIAID

TV Meteorologists Unite for Climate Change on the Summer Solstice. Meteorologist Marshall Shepherd has a post at Forbes: "Surprisingly, there are a small percentage of TV meteorologists that express skepticism on climate change. The American Meteorological Society (AMS), George Mason University, and others have studied the reasons why, and I will say more about that later. This is particularly worrisome because TV meteorologists are the only scientists the average public citizen will see on a daily basis. Many people, myself included, recognize that TV colleagues, though only about 8% of the meteorology field according to the AMS, are great sources for climate change news and education. And by the way, the majority of the public thinks that every meteorologist is on TV anyhow (smile). Every meteorologist that I know, irrespective of the sector of the field they work, has gotten this question, "So what channel are you on?" On the June 21, 2018 Summer Solstice, over 100 meteorologists will wear an item of clothing like the tie below. The effort is called #MetsUnite. Keep reading for what the pattern on the tie indicates..."

Climate Change May Spark Global "Fish Wars" Thanks to Warming Waters. Here's a clip from a National Geographic article: "...Welcome to the climate-change food threat you may not have considered. In many parts of the world overfishing is already draining the ocean of important sea life. But a paper published today in the journal Science suggests potentially explosive ocean fish wars are likely to simmer across the world as warming temperatures drive commercial fish species poleward into territories controlled by other nations, setting up conflicts with sometimes hostile neighbors that are suddenly forced to share. That could lead to far fewer fish, economic declines and, in some areas, serious threats to food security. "I've got a 3-year-old son, and sometimes it seems like he's better at sharing than countries are with fisheries," says lead author Malin Pinsky, an assistant professor of biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey..."

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