Basement Envy


What, if anything, will get you to go to the basement when severe storms threaten? A text? A call from someone you trust? An official warning or maybe visual confirmation of a tornado on the ground? This gets into behavioral science & how we make smart decisions, but seeing the KARE-11 helicopter footage from the 1986 Brooklyn Park twister got me thinking. I know, it happens rarely, as my wife of 29 years likes to point out.

I really wrestle with this: by showing amazing tornado video are we PROVING the threat is real, prompting people to get off the sofa & do the right thing -OR- are we encouraging more people to whip out their iPhones & remake a scene from the movie Twister, placing themselves in danger? Research suggests most of us need multiple sources of confirmation (siren, text, e-mail, TV warning, NOAA Weather Radio, app alert, etc) before we do the right thing - and head for the basement.

Today I'm grateful for a Canadian breeze: 70s with a dew point in the 50s. A shower may sneak in this evening - a better chance of showers & T-storms on Sunday, especially south of St. Cloud & the Twin Cities. Next week? 70s and low 80s, cooler than average; a few stormy episodes.

When it comes to heat & humidity Minnesota will be a whine-free zone.


Photo credit above: Camille Seaman.


Savor The Sun. Clouds will increase as the day goes on, a series of weak stormy ripples tracking along a persistent frontal boundary. Friday's welcome cool front does a U-Turn and returns north Sunday, sparking more numerous showers and T-storms, but a shower or T-shower could sneak into the MSP metro by late afternoon or evening. The earlier in the day you head outside, the better.


A Very Wet First Half of 2013. Dr. Mark Seeley has more information on a very soggy start to the year over the Upper Midwest; here's an excerpt from his latest edition of WeatherTalk: "...Further, the Midwest Climate Center informs us that the first six months of 2013 (January-June) has been the wettest in history for Michigan (20.80" statewide average), Iowa (24.93" statewide average), Wisconsin (21.85" statewide average), and Illinois (29.11" statewide average). In Minnesota it has been the 3rd wettest first six months of the year averaging 16.93 inches statewide (this trails only 17.31 inches in 1908 and 17.83 inches in 1896). Harmony, MN (Fillmore County) has reported nearly 35 inches of precipitation so far this year and their annual normal is 34.63 inches!" (photo credit: Paul Brooks).


Year To Date Rainfall. Portions of southeastern Minnesota have already seen a year's worth of rain, 30-35", as of July 19, based on NOAA rainfall guidance.


A More Seasonable Week. Temperatures will trend cooler average (highs near 83-84, which is average for this time of year). Showers and T-storms are most likely Sunday into Monday, another round Friday. We get a welcome break from the heat and humidity, with one possible exception.


Trending Cooler. The 00z NAM is hinting at a hot, humidified Monday with highs near 90F. Otherwise expect highs in the upper 70s to near 80 into much of next week, a little free A/C.


Welcome Canadian Air. The same cool front dropping temperatures and humidity levels over the Upper Midwest will spread strong to severe T-storms across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley into parts of New England Saturday; by Sunday much of the Northeast will experience a dip in temperature and dew point. Enjoy the break, because more heat and moisture will build into next week. The far west remains dry and ripe for more wildfires. 84 hour NAM loop: NOAA.


5-Day Rainfall. A stalling cool front will ignite the heaviest showers and T-storms from Kansas City eastward to Louisville and Nashville, more heavy rain for the Florida Panhandle and a monsoon soaking for Arizona.


Saturday Flash Flood Potential. Data from HRRR and other weather models suggest the greatest potential for T-storm flooding today from Cleveland to Erie to Elmira, New York, with more flooding possible over the Florida Panhandle. The Sioux Falls area may pick up as much as 1-2" of rain. Map: Alerts Broadcaster.


Hot And Bothered. Much of America experienced highs well up into the 90s yesterday. Factoring dew points above 70 heat indices poked into the hundreds from coast to coast. Only the Upper Midwest and portions of northern New England saw any relief. A weakening cool front of Canadian origin will provide slight relief for the Northeast by tomorrow. Map: Ham Weather.





Anniversary Of 1986 Televised (KARE-11) Tornado - What Prompts You To Go To The Basement? We've never had more effective ways of getting severe storm warnings: media, sirens, NOAA Weather radio, e-mails, texts, apps. We're all multitasking with various devices, one eye on the television, the other on a laptop or smart phone/tablet. When you see video of a tornado on the ground does it increase the odds of you heading for the basement, or does it tempt you to go outside to see if you can tape the tornado on your phone or camera, or maybe drive somewhere safer? Bad idea. I really wrestle with this, with showing video of tornadoes. On the one hand it provides unmistakable verification that rotation is, in fact, producing an actual tornado. People usually need multiple sources of confirmation from different sources before they do the right thing and head for safety. Another part of me thinks we're distracting the audience, tempting them to go outside and see the tornado for themselves. Here is today's installment of Climate Matters, remember the Twin Cities tornado of 1986, covered from beginning to end during a newscast, and tracked in real-time by KARE-11's helicopter. There has never been a tornado quite like this one. "WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist was on set at KARE 11 when the 1986 Tornado tore through the Twin Cities. Seeing the compelling footage again made him ask, what prompts YOU to take cover? Is it seeing a tornado in your area on TV? Is it hearing your local meteorologist talk about radar? Maybe a text message to your phone? We want to hear from you. Tell us below what gets you to the basement or sheltered space."


Tornado "LIve On KARE-11" 27 Years Ago. Video from the nearly stationary, white, F-2 tornado has been studied by tornado researchers - it's almost as if the tornado wanted to be photographed. Luckily it hit a park (Springbrook Nature Center) in Brooklyn Park, and not a heavily populated subdivision or shopping mall, although I was pretty shaken on the air, thinking that any moment this thing would veer into a nearby neighborhood and we would be witnessing carnage, live, on the air. That didn't happen, thank God. Here's an excerpt of an interview I gave KARE-11 on Thursday: ""People are understandably skeptical because 70% of tornado warnings are false alarms and that breeds this sense of apathy and complacency," Douglas explained. As we all know, the other 30% of tornado warnings can lead to events with devastating, and sometimes, deadly results. Douglas says here in the metro area, we've had a relatively smooth summer weather-wise so far. But, he says, don't become complacent. "Usually the tornado season peaks in May and June in Minnesota but everything has been delayed by at least one or two months. We're kind of limping into summer and so I have a hunch that we are going to be tracking severe storms much of the summer," he concluded."


When Tornadoes Strike, Which Way Do They Travel? This is pretty cool, one of the best visualizations and explanations of tornado tracks. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, as the deadly EF-5 El Reno tornado proved, when it suddenly veered 45 degrees to the northeast, claiming the lives of 3 accomplished tornado researchers. Details from "These gorgeous maps have the answer. Created by datavisualization expert John Nelson, these "Tornado Travel Maps" depict the relative proportion of more than 60 years of U.S. tornadoes by their direction of travel. Notice a pattern? The maps are the latest in Nelson's growing ouvre of gorgeous, natural-disaster-themed cartography. To date, he's produced maps depicting more than a century's worth of global earthquakes, over 150 years of tropical storms and hurricanes, and a slew of major U.S. wildfires. Each map is created from data made publicly available by organizations like NASA, NOAA and the USGS. Every one of them is stunning, combining troves of data with arresting visualizations to great (and incredibly informational) effect. Nelson's latest creation is no exception. What's more, it might one day be used to improve emergency response protocols for some of America's most devastating tornados..."


Watch: Surreal Photos Of Nature's Wrath. This is part of a TED Talk, one I encourage you to watch. Here's an excerpt from Camille Seaman's story at Huffington Post: "...For several thousand years we have allowed a story that gives man dominion over all the Earth's creatures to lead us to this place in which we as humans are destroying not only our own habitat, water supplies, air quality etc., but are taking out millions of our brother and sister species in the process. The underlying goal of my work is to help trigger an emotional connection, one that I hope will spark a relationship between the viewer and this planet. It is so easy to do harm to something or someone when you make it separate from yourself, when you can place it below you or see yourself as somehow more important than the "other." If you came to know that you cannot do harm to any other being or thing without doing harm to yourself, you might make different choices. Our planet is an awesome, wonderful and giving verdant place that we so easily take for granted..."

Photo credit above: Camille Seaman.


California Wildfire Now Tops 22,000 Acres. Mark my words: this will be one of California's worst fire seasons on record. The state picked up only 31% of their normal rain and snow since January 1, setting the stage for a growing drought, and a potentially historic run of fires, which usually don't peak until October. Here's a clip from U.S. News and World Report: "A massive wildfire that has been burning out of control in Southern California forced the evacuation of about 6,000 people on Wednesday, as firefighters are struggling to contain the 22,800-acre blaze. The Mountain Wildfire, as it is called, started in the San Jacinto Mountains on Monday, just west of Palm Springs. Since it started, the fire has more than tripled in size. On Tuesday, the wildfire had destroyed several buildings and burned through more than 14,000 acres of "steep and rugged terrain." The blaze claimed 22,800 acres by Thursday morning, and was 15 percent contained..."

Photo credit above: "Smoke rises from the Mountain Wildfire near Lake Hemet, Calif. The fast-moving wildfire in the mountains west of Palm Springs has forced some 6,000 evacuations."


NASA Talks Global Warming, "Second Warmest June On Record". Here's the intro to a story at Design & Trend: "NASA reported that the only warmer June in the global temperature record was 1998, a year "juiced by global warming and El Nino." June of 2013 teeters between a weak La Nina season and ENSO-neutral conditions, meaning that climate experts projected normally below-average global average temperature. According to Think Progress, the accumulation of heat-trapping greenhouse gases were responsible for contributing to the second hottest June on record.  NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports that the June 2013 surface temperature anomalies, which can be viewed here..."

Image credit above: "A high pressure system centered over the Ohio Valley and a closed upper level low over the Texas/Oklahoma border are bringing hot, muggy air to a broad swath of the eastern U.S. as seen in this NOAA handout image taken by the GOES East satellite at 12:45 p.m. EDT (16:45 GMT) July 15, 2013." (Photo : REUTERS/NOAA/NASA/Handout via Reuters)


June 2013 Global Climate Update. Here's a clip from NOAA's "In June 2013, many areas of the world experienced higher-than-average monthly temperatures. According to the latest statistics from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the globally averaged temperature for the month tied with 2006 as the fifth warmest June since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 37th consecutive June and 340th consecutive month—that’s a total of more than 28 years—with a global temperature above the 20th-century average. The last below-average June temperature was June 1976 and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985..."

The map above shows temperatures relative to average across the globe for June 2013. Shades of red indicate temperatures up to 11° Fahrenheit warmer than the 1981–2010 average and shades of blue indicate temperatures up to 11° Fahrenheit cooler than the average.


Record Heat In June Extends Globe's Streak To 340 Months. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman from Climate Central has more details on the findings for June; here's a clip: "Global average surface temperatures during June were either the second or the fifth-warmest on record for the month, based on analyses by NASA and NOAA, respectively. The two agencies keep tabs on global temperature trends using large networks of surface monitoring stations and statistical approaches to fill in gaps where stations are sparse, but they use slightly different methods to analyze the data, which can result in slight differences in their rankings. June continued the long-term warming trend tied to manmade greenhouse gas pollution as well as natural climate variability. The planet has not recorded a single month with temperatures below the 20th century average since February 1985, when the cult classic film “The Breakfast Club” was released, and the last year with a cooler-than-average June was in 1976. This year so far is tied with 2003 as the seventh-warmest year on record, NOAA said..." (Image above: NASA).


Interior Chief Says Drought May Cause Record Wildfires In U.S. Bloomberg has the story. Image credit: DNR.


Bill To Shift NOAA Resources To Weather Marches On. I'm all for having more powerful and accurate weather models, but coming at the expense of climate modeling? Not sure that's an inspired idea. Here's a clip from Andrew Freedman at Climate Central: "A House bill that would mandate the nation’s top weather and climate agency shift its priorities more toward short-term weather forecasting has sped its way through the legislative process. The House Science Committee is expected to consider it in the next few weeks. The bill is aimed at changing how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) prioritizes its missions of weather, climate and ocean science. Critics of the bill say that prioritization will shortchange long-term climate research in favor of improving forecasts of extreme weather..."


"Timelapse Earth" Will Leave You Humbled. This may be the best 4 minutes you spend today, courtesy of "Man (or woman) can only dream what it looks like hovering above earth watching the beauty of science orbit beneath them. Thanks to the ISS (International Space Station) we have the next best thing, a timelapse. “Some interesting tidbits about the ISS. It orbits the planet about once every 90 mins and is about 350 Km/217 miles. The yellow/greenish line that you see over the earth is Airgolw. All footage has been color graded, denoised, deflickered, slowed down and stabilized by Bruce W. Berry. Clips were then complied and converted to 1080 HD at 24 frames/sec. Read on to learn what cameras they use and more info about the ISS...”


9 Most Common Regrets Of The Living And Dying - And What To Do About Them. My goal (like so many others) is to live a life of no regrets, to not look back and say "could-have, should-have, would-have". That's why I found this story from Next Avenue so interesting; here's a clip: "In spending time with patients during the last three to 12 weeks of their lives, Ware gleaned vital insight into the concerns and regrets of those faced with imminent death. Here are the core regrets as she describes them in her Inspiration and Chai blog.
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it..."



Extreme Mowing. 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. On a lawn mower? Why not. has the details; here's a clip: "Billed as world’s fastest lawn mower, the Mean Mower is a (heavily) modified version of on Honda’s HF260 Lawn Tractor that can make 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.0 seconds – fast enough to put most exotic full-sized autos to shame. This racy take on the riding mower develops 96 Nm (70 lb.ft) of torque, 109 hp (which gives it roughly 100 more ponies than most of its lawn tractor brethren) and has a power-to-weight ratio of 532 bhp/tonne thanks to a weight of only 140 kg (308 lb). To keep the whole thing legit, grass cutting remains very much a part of the equation. Yes it still cuts grass, but only at speeds up to 15 mph (24 km/h). But once the lawn has been carefully manicured then feel free to take it out on the local autobahn and run it out to an (estimated) 130 mph (209 km/h). Helmet recommended..."

Photo credit above: "Honda’s one-off HF260 Lawn Tractor is capable of reaching 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.0 seconds."


86 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

84 F. average high for July 19.

84 F. high on July 19, 2012.



TODAY: Comfortable humidity levels. Some morning/midday sun gives way to increasing clouds. A shower or T-shower is possible by late afternoon. Dew point: 56. Winds: NE 10. High: 77


SATURDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy with a few showers, possible thunder. Low: 62


SUNDAY: Unsettled with showers & storms, best chance southern and central MN. Winds: SE 10. High: 76


MONDAY: Sticky sun, few T-storms possible. Dew point: 70. Wake-up: 67. High: 89


TUESDAY: Some sun, less humid again. Dew point: 61. Wake-up: 65. High: 81


WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun. Wake-up: 64. High: 79


THURSDAY: Clouds increase, late thunder? Wake-up: 62. High: 83


FRIDAY: Heavier T-storms possible. Wake-up: 63. High: 81



Climate Stories...


Nonsense And Sensitivity: Top Climatologist Slams The Economist For Yet Another "Flawed And Misleading" Piece. Here's a clip from Think Progress: "Here’s The Economist’s idea of responsible journalism. Begin by quoting UN chief climate negotiator Yvo de Boer on the forthcoming fifth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

THAT report is going to scare the wits out of everyone.

Then dig up some unpublished, unsubstantiated chart to make the case “it might be less terrifying than it could have been.” No, seriously, the Economist devoted an entire article to argue that a draft climate change report “might be less terrifying than it could have been.” I guess if The Economist had been leaked the draft medical report from a decade ago that Steve Jobs had a neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas (rather than a carcinoma), they would have written an entire piece explaining his condition “might be less terrifying than it could have been...”

Graphic credit above: "On our current emissions path, projected warming is catastrophic even in the unlikely event of a low climate sensitivity of 1.5 – 2.0°C. From Michael Schlesinger et al 2012."


Future Global Warming Under "Business As Usual". Skeptical Science has the post: "This graph shows that even at the lowest range of climate sensitivity, future global warming will take us well beyond any temperature experienced during civilised human history. The blue line represents reconstructed temperature (Marcott et al. 2013). The red line represents measured and projected global surface temperature (Meinshausen et al. 2011). The red dots show the projected warming in the year 2100 for three different climate sensitivities (high sensitivity 4.5C, most likely sensitivity 3C, low sensitivity 1.5C). H/T to Joe Romm and Michael Tobis whose work inspired this graph.

For more info, see A Glimpse at Our Possible Future Climate, Best to Worst Case Scenarios..."


The CIA Wants To Know How To Control The Climate. Geo-engineering climate may be a technological savior, or a dangerous pipe-dream, right? The Verge and Mother Jones have a fascinating story on how the CIA and how they are taking a morphing climate very seriously; here's the intro: "The US Central Intelligence Agency isn't just interested in gathering intelligence on foreign powers and enemies. As it turns out, Langley is also investigating the feasibility of altering the environment to fight the effects of climate change. The CIA is currently funding, in part, a $630,000 study on geoengineering, the science of using experimental techniques to modify Earth's climate, as Mother Jones reports. The 21-month-long study was commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences, a nonprofit group of scientific advisors to the government, and a final report on its findings is due to be published in the fall of 2014..."


Reid Blames Climate Change: "West Is Burning". Here's a clip from The Las Vegas Review-Journal: "As firefighters head home from Southern Nevada, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid on Wednesday blamed “climate change” for the intense blaze that consumed nearly 28,000 acres and drove hundreds of residents from their homes around Mount Charleston this month. Reid said the government should be spending “a lot more” on fire prevention, echoing elected officials who say the Forest Service should move more aggressively to remove brush and undergrowth that turn small fires into huge ones. “The West is burning,” the Nevada Democrat told reporters in a meeting. “I could be wrong, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a fire in the Spring Mountains, Charleston range like we just had. “Why are we having them? Because we have climate change. Things are different. The forests are drier, the winters are shorter, and we have these terrible fires all over the West....”

Photo credit above: JOHN LOCHER/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. "The Carpenter 1 Fire burns in the mountains behind the Red Rock Conservation Area visitor center near Las Vegas early in the morning of Thursday, July 11. The fire has forced the closure of the Red Rock National Conservation Area Scenic Loop."


The Era Of Corporate Silence On Climate Policy Is Ending. The Harvard Business Review has the story; here's the introduction: "Tackling climate change is one of America's greatest economic opportunities." So proclaims the Climate Declaration, a public statement signed by a fast-growing list of U.S. corporate giants, including GM, Nike, Intel, Starbucks, Unilever, eBay, Swiss Re, and even The Weather Channel. This new attempt to encourage companies to lobby for climate action is gaining steam. President Obama gave the movement a boost in June when he highlighted the declaration in his big climate speech. More companies are taking a proactive role in climate policy, and for good reasons..."


Saudi Arabia Aims To Become The World's Largest Renewable Energy Market. I had a vaguely out of body experience when I came across this headline. Saudi Arabia? World's biggest renewable energy market? It probably makes sense. All that sunshine, and a gradually depleting natural resource of oil under their feet - The Kingdom probably has the right idea here, as explained at "Saudi Arabia aims to become the world’s foremost market for renewable energy with an aggressive investment budget of $109 billion. By 2032, the country strives to generate as much as a third of the Kingdom’s energy demands using renewable energy (54 GW). Following the publicity surrounding the country’s major investment drive, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) released a series of documents detailing the revised National Energy Plan. In addition to the 41 GW of solar power, 25 GW of CSP and 16 GW of PV, the Kingdom is aiming to generate 18 GW of nuclear energy, 3 GW of waste to energy, 1 GW of geothermal and an additional 9 GW of wind power, specifically for water desalination plants..."

Photo credit above: "By 2032, Saudi Arabia strives to generate as much as a third of the country's energy demands using renewable energy.

Older Post

Breathing Easier (June marked the 340th month in a row of global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average)

Newer Post

Storms Taper - Some PM Sun (steamy Monday, then free A/C much of this week)