Wet Rut Continues - Growing Risk of "Barry"

"If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane" wrote John Green in "Looking for Alaska". Possibly my favorite weather quote ever. The odds of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico ("Barry"?) are increasing. ECMWF, the European model, suggests landfall near New Orleans Saturday, but track and intensity forecasts WILL shift over time as newer, better data fuels the weather models.

Basic physics: warmer air can hold more water vapor, more fuel for intense rains. According to NOAA, for the third time in 2019, the record was broken for the wettest 12-month period in the USA; almost 8 inches wetter than average. July 2018 to June 2019 was the 4th wettest such period since 1895 in Minnesota

Expect a cool wind today, with showers over northern & western Minnesota. A sunny, quiet Thursday gives way to a weekend warming trend, with 80s and hit-or-miss storms. Models suggest 90s Monday through Wednesday of next week.

Prime time summertime. The sweaty days we were daydreaming about a few months ago. 

Graphic above: ECMWF forecast valid midday Saturday, courtesy of WSI.

Messy Spaghetti Plot. Models generally show a westward drift as the system in the Gulf of Mexico intensifies, before an eventual northward pivot by late week; anywhere from Mobile to Lake Charles, Louisiana. Stay tuned.

U.S. Has Its Wettest 12 Months on Record - Again. NOAA has details: "...Wet conditions from July 2018 through June 2019 resulted in a new 12-month precipitation record in the U.S., with an average of 37.86 inches (7.90 inches above average), according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The average precipitation for June was 3.30 inches (0.37of an inch above average), placing it in the upper third in the record books. Flooding conditions persisted along the central and Lower Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers. The average June temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 68.7 degrees F (0.2 degrees above average), which ranked in the middle third of the 125-year record..."

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday, July 9th, 2019:

  • We continue to track a system across the Florida Panhandle this morning which, as it moves south into the Gulf of Mexico, could become a tropical system in the mid-to-late week time frame. Chances of tropical formation sit at 50% in the next two days and 80% over the next five days.
  • The area of low pressure responsible for this potential tropical development will slowly slide west once it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. While models currently indicate a potential landfall of this system this weekend in Texas or Louisiana, facilities from the western Florida Panhandle to the Texas coast should still monitor this system over the next several days for potential impacts.
  • The greatest concern from this system – whether it forms into a named tropical system or not – will be heavy rain. Through the weekend, parts of the Gulf Coast could see 5-10” of rain, with totals closer to a foot possible where this system makes landfall. Days of heavy rain could lead to the potential of flash flooding. This system will also produce gusty winds at times, as well as rip currents along the coast.

High Probability Of Tropical Formation. We continue to track an area of low pressure situated over the Florida Panhandle this morning which later today will move southward into the Gulf of Mexico. Once it does so, it will have the potential to develop into a tropical depression through the mid-to-late week time frame, moving west across the northern Gulf of Mexico. As of Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center gives this area of low pressure a 50% chance to become a tropical system in the next two days, and an 80% chance in the next five days. If this system did eventually become a tropical storm, it would be named “Barry.”

System To Slowly Move Westward Through The End Of The Week. Once the system pushes into the Gulf of Mexico, a slow westward drift will occur with the area of low pressure through the end of the week. Right now, models are indicating that this area of low pressure would come onshore this weekend somewhere across Louisiana or Texas. However, facilities from the western Florida Panhandle to the Texas coast should still monitor this system as models will not likely get a great grasp on the overall track of the system until it gets organized in the Gulf. Also, impacts such as heavy rain and stronger storms will still be possible for areas like the western Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama/Mississippi during the second half of the week, even if the overall track of the storm drifts it – and its eventual landfall – further west.

Heavy Rain Threat. No matter whether or not this system ends up becoming named as a tropical depression or storm, one of the main threats from this system will be heavy rain along the Gulf Coast states. Some of the heaviest rain will occur along the eventual path of the storm and near where landfall occurs, which is where rainfall totals of a foot or more could be possible. This heavy rain will lead to the potential of flooding. Other threats from this system will include gusty winds and rip currents along the coast.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

Trending Hotter Again. Although the epicenter of heat remains well south of Minnesota, we may see a few more waves of 90-degree heat as we push into late July - most of the USA forecast to be (stinking) hot 2 weeks out.

Lake Superior Tops Record High July Water Level. Duluth News Tribune has the story; here are a couple of excerpts: "Despite a drier than normal June across much of the Lake Superior basin the big lake has set a new record-high Water level for July 1, the International Lake Superior Board of Control reports…Lake Superior sat 14 inches above the normal July 1 level and 10 inches higher than at this time in 2018." There is a much-increased risk of shoreline erosion, lakeshore flooding and coastal damages across the upper Great Lakes system,'' the board noted in its monthly report..."

Juneau It's Hot When...: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: "The city of Anchorage hit a record 90 degrees F on July 4, forcing officials to cancel firework displays to safeguard against wildfires as a suffocating heatwave sweeps Alaska. Sunday marked the fifth day in a row that temperatures in Anchorage have hit highs of 80 degrees or above, with July 4's temperature smashing the previous record high of 85 degrees set in 1969. Brian Brettschneider of the International Arctic Research Center told the New York Times that Anchorage has now had "an exceptional run" of 34 consecutive days of above-average temperatures. Global warming has amplified the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme heat and heat waves." (Heatwave: New York Times $, Washington Post $, CNNBBC, NBCKTUU, The Hill. Fire: Washington Post $, The Hill. Commentary: Washington Post, Philip Bump analysis $. Background: Climate Signals)

After Brutal Spring Floods, U.S. Farmers Face Big Losses. Thomson Reuters Foundation has perspective; here's a clip: "...After historic spring rains flooded huge swathes of western Corn Belt states such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa - a disaster scientists say is likely linked to climate change - rain there eased off shortly before planting time in May. But further east, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois are facing a disastrous year, with unusually heavy rain over five straight month to June. Normally, by mid-June, all the corn and 94% of the soybean crop in Ohio would be planted. This year, just 68% of corn and 46% of soybean crops were in the ground by that time, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Even those figures are thought to be high, as they include responses from farmers who still hope to plant but may eventually be unable to do so..."

Photo credit: "Greg McGlinch, who farms 450 acres in Darke County, Ohio, looks out over a flooded cornfield, after record spring rains, June 21, 2019." Thomson Reuters Foundation/Stephen Starr.

The Truth Behind 7 Common Tornado Myths. A few oldies but goodies in a post at Popular Mechanics: "...On April 26, 1991, a group of motorists huddled under an overpass on the Kansas Turnpike during a tornado and shot video of their ordeal. They were lucky to survive this close encounter, and the dramatic footage of their experience has led many to believe that overpasses are viable tornado shelters. The space beneath an overpass can create a wind tunnel, accelerating the already violent winds of the tornado. And wind speed increases with height, so climbing the embankments beneath the girders of the overpass may expose you to even stronger winds. "People have tried to take shelter and been killed in overpasses," Carbin says. "The wind forced through a small, rigid opening like that can actually increase the wind speed and likely tear you right out of there, which has happened..."

Hurricane Season Getting Longer and Stronger Along South Carolina Coast, Scientist Says. Here's an excerpt from WSOC-TV: "...The coast of South Carolina has seen three destructive hurricanes in three years -- Matthew, Irma, and Florence. Dr. Lee Lindler from the College of Charleston has been researching storms for 30 years. He says he believes a variety of modern factors like rising sea temperatures are cause for concern. "If wind shear and all the other parameters stay the same, then you would definitely expect to see a significant increase in the number of days you have intense hurricanes," Lindler said..."

File image of Hurricane Florence: NASA.

23 Governors Join California in Opposing Trump Mileage Standards. Add Minnesota and Wisconsin to that list. Here's an excerpt from Star Tribune: "Citing climate-damaging tailpipe emissions, 23 governors signed a pledge Tuesday backing California leaders in their showdown with the Trump administration over its plans to relax vehicle mileage standards. The pledge by leaders of states and Puerto Rico, most of them Democrats, comes as the administration seeks to ease tougher mileage standards laid out by former President Barack Obama as part of his efforts against climate change. Legal challenges to Trump's policy proposal threaten to disrupt the auto industry for years, and an influential auto industry trade group is renewing its appeal for the compromise..."

File photo: Glenn Stubbe, Star Tribune.

Electric Car Sales Grab Almost Half of Sales in Oil-Producing Norway. Reuters has the story: "Almost half of new cars sold in Norway in the first six months of 2019 were powered by fully electric engines, up from just over a quarter in the same period last year, ensuring the Nordic nation retains its top global ranking in electric vehicle sales. Tesla’s (TSLA.O) Model 3 was Norway’s top-selling vehicle, the Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) said when announcing the latest sales data on Monday. In total, 48.4% of all new cars sold from January to June were electric, surpassing the 31.2% seen for the full year 2018, and making oil-producing Norway the global leader in per-capita electric car sales by a wide margin..."

Is Globalization Doomed? Economist Michael O'Sullivan Believes So. Check out the post at Big Think; here's a clip: "...The fully multipolar world could be composed of three or four major regions — places that have distinct ways of running their society, culture, and economies. As O'Sullivan notes, "[It] will be dominated by at least three large regions: America, the European Union, and a China-centric Asia. They will increasingly take very different approaches to economic policy, liberty, warfare, technology, and society." Mid-sized countries are more likely to either be left behind or struggle unless they coalesce into new coalitions to keep up with the greater multipolaristic powers. Along with this, "Institutions of the 20th century — the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization — will appear increasingly defunct..."

In 1919 Driving Cross-Country Was a Crazy Idea. An Army Convoy Set Out to Show It Could Be Done. The Washington Post has an interesting story; here's the intro: "A long line of nearly 100 vehicles stretched out along the White House Ellipse on the morning of July 7, 1919, replete with heavy troop carriers, light trucks, sidecar motorcycles, reconnaissance cars, field kitchens, blacksmith shops and one Renault light tank. The automobiles were a cross section of the vast motor pool acquired by the federal government during World War I. Though an armistice had brought peace to Europe the previous year, the military had given itself a new mission: driving a convoy across the country. Flush with surplus Army vehicles, the War Department intended to send a first-of-its-kind motorized expedition from the District to San Francisco..."
Photo credit: "The 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy crossing east Wyoming." (Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library).

These Are The Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2019. The World Economic Forum has a list of the most promising new technologies: "...From income inequality to climate change, technology will play a critical role in finding solutions to all the challenges our world faces today,” says Jeremy Jurgens, Chief Technology Officer at the World Economic Forum. “This year’s emerging technologies demonstrate the rapid pace of human innovation and offer a glimpse into what a sustainable, inclusive future will look like.” Making the list involves more than promising major benefits to the world. The emerging technologies must positively disrupt the existing order, be attractive to investors and researchers, and expect to achieve considerable scale within the coming 5 years..."

The Purpose of Life is Not Happiness. It's Usefulness. Food for thought from Medium: "...What really makes me happy is when I’m useful. When I create something that others can use. Or even when I create something I can use. For the longest time I found it difficult to explain the concept of usefulness and happiness. But when I recently ran into a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the dots finally connected.

Emerson says:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

And I didn’t get that before I became more conscious of what I’m doing with my life. And that always sounds heavy and all. But it’s actually really simple..."

"Delete Your (Facebook) Account" Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Says. Gizmodo has details: "Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak deleted his personal Facebook account last year and is now telling everyone else they should do the same. Woz was stopped by TMZ at Reagan National Airport in D.C. recently and warned that the lack of privacy on the platform isn’t worth it for most people, adding a warning more generally, “who knows if my cellphone is listening right now?” “There are many different kinds of people, and some the benefits of Facebook are worth the loss of privacy,” Wozniak told TMZ. “But to many like myself, my recommendation is—to most people—you should figure out a way to get off Facebook...”

Screenshot credit: TMZ/YouTube

80 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

84 F. average high on July 9.

90 F. high on July 9, 2018.

July 10, 2002: Intense rainfall causes extensive street flooding in St. Cloud. 2.70 inches of rain falls in 1 hour and 45 minutes at St. Cloud State University. People were stranded in their cars and had to be rescued by the fire department.

WEDNESDAY: Gusty, few showers. Winds: W 15-30. High: 78

THURSDAY: Sunny, warm and quiet. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 61. High: 81

FRIDAY: Hazy sun, risk of a PM T-storm. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 66. High: 86

SATURDAY: Sticky sun, an isolated T-storm. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 70. High: 87

SUNDAY: Muggy with some sun. Another T-storm. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 72. High: 88

MONDAY: Sizzling sunshine, feels like 100+ Winds: S 15-30. Wake-up: 72. High: 93

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, delightfully sweaty. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 74. High: 92

Climate Stories...

How Climate Change Will Affect Minnesota. Mpls. St. Paul Magazine has an excellent overview of current impact and future implications for Minnesota; here's the intro: "For a few decades now—yes, it’s been a while—we’ve been hearing about what a warming Earth will look like in the future. Wildfires in Los Angeles. Flooding in Miami. While we were looking elsewhere—or trying to cover our eyes—Minnesota became the second-fastest warming state in the country. For better or worse (probably worse), we’re starting to see how it will play out. The pine forests will swoon. Some of our iconic animals—moose, lynx, loons—will move up north . . . to Canada. Our basements will flood. And we won’t want to sleep with the windows open in August. What will climate change look like in Minnesota? Here’s a snapshot..."

Is President Trump Acknowledging Climate Change? Here's an excerpt from an overview of Monday's comments from the president at TIME.com: "...But one claim stood out as particularly surprising: Trump specifically cited a reduction in climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions and bragged that the U.S. has exceeded other countries in nixing greenhouse gas emissions. “Every single one of the signatories to the Paris climate accord lags behind America,” he said. That claim is misleading: emissions rose in the U.S. last year and Trump’s policies are likely to make future reductions less likely. But, more significantly, the claim appears to be an acknowledgement by the President that climate change is an actual problem that the United States should be addressing, something he has previously dismissed..."

File image: Climate Nexus.

As the World Heats Up, the Climate for News is Changing, Too. The New York Times has the story; here's a clip: "...Mr. Nisbet, who recently published an article headlined “The Trouble With Climate Emergency Journalism” in the journal Issues in Science and Technology, warned that fever-pitch coverage could make climate science go the way of dietary science, a discipline that has suffered, in his view, from credulous reports of new studies that regularly upend conventional wisdom — fat is bad; no, carbs are bad; no, eat like a cave man. “People don’t know what to believe,” Mr. Nisbet said. “They lose trust in the science and in the journalism about the science, and the complexity of the issue is lost.” David Wallace-Wells, the deputy editor of New York magazine whose work has appeared in The Times, argued the contrary, saying that a dash of alarmism suits alarming developments..."

File image: NASA.

Climate Change Could Fuel Next Wave of Immigrants from Latin America. Here's a clip from a press release at Berkeley News: "Global climate change is likely to exacerbate the ongoing immigration crisis in the United States, according to field research being done this summer in Guatemala by a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student funded by the Center for Latin American Studies. Michael Bakal, who will be teaching at the School of Public Health this fall, is working among the farming population, and says Guatemalan farmers have been hit hard by climate change in the form of drought. In the first three weeks he spent in the small town of Rabinal in central Guatemala, during what is usually the rainy season, Bakal says rain fell on just three days. He says when he first came to the area 10 years ago, it rained every day..."

Photo credit: "Earning a living corn farming in Guatemala has become ever more difficult during an ongoing drought, and Berkeley researcher Michael Bakal suggests continued difficulty farming could lead to increased Guatemalan immigration to the United States." (Photo by Tomas Castelazo via Wiki Commons)

"We Cannot Save Everything". A Historic Neighborhood Confronts Rising Seas. The New York Times (paywall) has the story; here's an excerpt: "...According to a 2014 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, sea level rise threatens sites ranging from Faneuil Hall, where the Sons of Liberty planned the Boston Tea Party, to the launchpads of Cape Canaveral. The National Park Service says a quarter of its properties are on or near the coast, and most of them contain historic structures — many of them Civil War forts vulnerable to sea level rise. In 2016, the N.R.F. organized a conference, “Keeping History Above Water,” to address the problem of historic properties being threatened by sea level rise. The Point was its case study..."

Illustration credit: Mika Gröndahl.

Easy as One, Two, Tree: Details via Climate Nexus: "Planting billions of trees across the world could be one of the most effective tools available to fight the climate crisis, new research suggests. A study published Thursday in the journal Science finds that the planet could support an additional 2.5 billion acres of trees to increase the world's forested areas by 25 percent. When those trees mature, the study finds, they have the potential to absorb up to 830 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere--around as much CO2 as human activity has created over the past 25 years. "What blows my mind is the scale," lead researcher Tom Crowther told The Guardian. "I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed." (APThe Guardian, New York Times $, LA Times $, VoxCBS, The Hill, Deutsche Welle, GizmodoReuters, BBC. Commentary: The Guardian editorialMother Jones, Kevin Drum analysis, Naples News editorial)

It's the Cars, Not the Cows. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at Star Tribune: "...But the campaign underway to shame the world into giving up animal foods in the name of climate change is pure vegetarian projection, a low-calorie mixture of facts and assumptions. It piggybacks on our anxiety over rising seas, shifting a worthwhile fear of greenhouse gases onto an unfounded fear of meat. Mostly, the vegetarian appropriation of the climate crisis is reckless. Climate change will require our focused attention, collective sacrifice and unprecedented political courage. Transformative, disruptive changes will be necessary to make fossil fuels reflect their costs to the environment, then transition society to 100% renewable energy. These will be painful enough without battling the perception that food activism may have hijacked the agenda..."

Illustration credit: Rob Dobi for the Star Tribune.

If Climate Change Makes You Feel Hopeless, Maybe Religion Can Help. Here's a snippet from VICE: "...The problems with climate change are real for us all and we need changes now." "One thing I talk about frequently is the definition of faith," said Motzkin Rubenstein. "And faith is not the belief that if you do the right thing, the outcome you hope for will happen. Faith is the space between denial and despair. Faith is the space where you can realistically look at a situation and say, 'Yes, this is happening and this is terrible and we don't even know what the consequences will be,' and yet, we understand that we are called to do something about it, even if what we feel is despair, even if our efforts can't do any good..."

Illustration credit: Lia Kantrowitz.

"Our Biggest Compliment Yet". Greta Thunberg Thanks OPEC for Criticism. CNBC.com has details: "Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg has welcomed criticism from OPEC’s secretary general, describing it as the “biggest compliment yet” to a growing movement of young protesters demanding action over climate change. “Thank you!” Thunberg said Thursday in response to thinly-veiled criticism from a prominent fossil fuel leader. “Our biggest compliment yet!”....OPEC’s secretary general did not mention any group specifically, but his comments appeared to refer to the recent wave of school strikes inspired by Thunberg’s “Friday’s for Future” movement. Barkindo said that the “mobilization” against oil was beginning to “dictate policies and corporate decisions, including investment in the industry...”

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Sweaty Weekend Coming - "Barry" Threatens New Orleans with Severe Flooding