Heat Index Reaches Extreme Danger Zone Today

At the risk of plagiarizing Guns N' Roses "Welcome to the Jungle!" Think of it as a free sauna, without the towels and cucumber-infused water samples.

It could be worse. It won't be as horrific as July 31, 2015, when the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr saw a temperature of 115F with a dew point of 90F, resulting in an astonishing heat index of 165F.

On July 19, 2011 the dew point at the airport in Moorhead reached 88F, a new state record. Dew points may brush 80F today, making 96F feel like 110-115F. Excessive Heat Warnings imply a very real threat of heat ailments.

Here's what we know: today will probably be the hottest day of 2016; the most uncomfortably hot weather in 4 years. Friday may be the last day of 90s; T-storms Saturday may be strong to severe as cooler air approaches. Sunday looks like the drier, more comfortable day with a welcome dip in dew point. 80s return next week - still sticky, but not as oppressive as today will be.

Slow down, take frequent breaks, try and stay hydrated - and check in on older friends & family to make sure they're keeping their cool.

Extreme Heat Index Expected Today. The combination of upper 90s (maybe 100F) coupled with a dew point near 80F may create a heat index as high as 115F by late afternoon. I don't care how well hydrated or healthy you are - at 115F stuff starts to break down. Take it VERY easy out there later today, especially late afternoon into the evening hours. Source: WeatherBell.

First 100-Degree High in 4 Years? You have to go back to July, 2012 for 100-degree air temperatures in the Twin Cities. NOAA's high-resolution 4 km NAM model is predicting 100F by 3 pm, NDFD data peaks at 99F. It'll be close. Model ensemble: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.

Heat Index: Off The Scale. 118F seems a bit extreme (although not entirely out of the question). I'm leaning more toward peak heat indices in the 110 to 115F range, which means an exceptionally high risk of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke, which can be fatal if not caught early and treated effectively.

Why Today Feels Horrific. NOAA NAM guidance predicts 7 pm temperatures near 93F with a dew point of 82. Friday may be nearly as hot, in spite of a light wind shift to the northeast, but dew points drop into the mid 70s, making a few notches less oppressive.

Locally Heavy Rain - Severe Storm Risk Saturday. The approach of cooler, more reasonable Canadian air may leave the atmosphere agitated enough for strong to severe T-storms Saturday; internal models showing a chance of some 1"+ rains in and around the Twin Cities.

First Half of 2016 Blows Away Temperature Records. Andrea Thompson reports at Climate Central: "The monthly numbers from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts the planet on track to surpass 2015 as the hottest on record. “2016 has really blown that out of the water,” Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. While 2016 has gotten a boost from an exceptionally strong El Niño, the record temps are mostly the result of the excess heat that has built up in Earth’s atmosphere due to accumulating greenhouse gases. That heat is raising global sea levels, disrupting ecosystems and leading to more extreme weather events. Every month this year has been record warm globally..."

Graphic credit: "The running average of global temperatures during 2016."

* More perspective on the record-setting first half of 2016 from Ars Technica and ThinkProgress.

Hottest June on Record, Worldwide. Continuing the trend. Here's an excerpt from HotWhopper: "According to GISS NASA, the average global surface temperature anomaly for June was 0.79 °C, which just pipped June 2015 (0.78 C) and June 1998 (0.77 °C). Last month is only the second time in nine months that the GISTemp monthly anomaly is less than one degree Celsius above the average from 1951-1980. It probably won't be the last, now that El Nino is over. The average for the six months to the end of June is 1.09 °C, which is 0.28 °C higher than any previous January to June period. The previous highest was last year, which with the latest data had an anomaly of 0.81 °C...."

Graphic credit: "Global mean surface temperature, progressive year to date to June 2016." Data source. GISS NASA.

Is "Sweating Corn" Making The Heat Wave Worse? Probably, by at least a couple of degrees. Angela Fritz explains at Capital Weather Gang: "...Corn sweat is an extremely simple way of referring to evapotranspiration, the process by which moisture in plant leaves evaporates into the air. Plants draw water out of the ground through their roots for photosynthesis, and the water in the plant cells is exposed to the air once it gets above the ground. It evaporates off the leaves just as sweat evaporates off our skin — although it doesn’t take place to keep the plant cool, like it does for us. So evapotranspiration is not making things hotter. But it is making things more humid — which can certainly be just as bad..."

Map credit: "Corn acreage by county in 2015." (USDA).

Hailstorms Grow Less Predictable and More Expensive. I found a story at Risk & Insurance interesting; here's a clip: "...Between 2000 and 2013, U.S. insurers paid out almost $54 billion in claims from hail losses, and 70 percent of the losses occurred in just the last six years, said a report by Verisk Insurance Solutions. The average claim severity was also 65 percent higher during that period, than from 2000 to 2007, the report said. Most losses were from broken windows and roof damage. Added to that, hailstorms are increasingly harder to forecast and are occurring in unlikely places, with reports of hail this year in warmer climates such as South Florida..."

Florida Tops Nation in Deadly Combination of Heat and Humidity. No big surprise here, if you've ever been to Orlando in August. Here's an excerpt from The Miami Herald: "As climate change warms the planet, you can bet Florida will feel the heat. The sunshine state, according to a study released Wednesday by Climate Central, tops the nation in the number of metro areas expected to see a dangerous combination of heat and humidity, driving heat index temperatures to 104 degrees. By 2050, all 13 cities on the list, including Miami, Tampa, Naples and Vero Beach, will see 100-plus days a year of the miserable mix that can cause a host of health problems and even death — meaning more weather that feels like South Florida’s last few sticky, searing weeks... (Image credit: NASA).

The Future of Big Oil? At Shell, It's Not Oil. Bloomberg reports: "At Australia’s Curtis Island, you can see Big Oil morphing into Big Gas. Just off the continent’s rugged northeastern coast lies a 667-acre liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal owned by Royal Dutch Shell, an engineering feat of staggering complexity. Gas from more than 2,500 wells travels hundreds of miles by pipeline to the island, where it’s chilled and pumped into 10-story-high tanks before being loaded onto massive ships. “We’re more a gas company than an oil company,” says Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive officer. “If you have to place bets, which we have to, I’d rather place them there...”

Conservative Approaches to Clean Energy: Innovative Solutions for the 21st Century. I'm looking forward to participating in this conference next Monday in Minneapolis, courtesy of Citizens League. Where is the common ground? Can we all agree we want more energy, at less cost, with fewer unpleasant or unhealthy side effects? We want choice, resilience and alternatives. We hope to see you there: "You don’t often hear the terms “clean energy” and “conservative” in the same sentence, but that hides the fact that a new generation of conservative policy thinkers have turned their attention to the economics of the energy marketplace. Both nationally and here in Minnesota conservatives have been putting some meat on the bones of their “all of the above” strategy, coming up with innovative solutions to building a 21st century energy marketplace.

On July 25th the Citizens League will be joining with the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum to host an event featuring both national and state policy thinkers to explore the growing movement of conservatives embracing both technological and marketplace innovations in delivering energy to consumers. Join us for what will prove to be a surprising and interesting conversation...." (Photo: Michael Nagle, Bloomberg).

Could Vertical Take-Off Electric Planes Replace Cars In Our Cities? From crowded streets to crowded skies? I guess that's progress. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "The end of the jet age could be in sight. Innovative new electric aircraft are starting to find their way off the drawing board and onto runways, funded by startups, government agencies and the world’s biggest jet makers. They promise flights that are cleaner, quieter and safer than today’s jets, and with a fraction of their carbon footprint..."

Photo credit: "The German-made Volocoptor can take off vertically, offering the potential for use away from airports." Photograph: Volocopter/Nikolay Kazakov.

America's Only Floating Post Office Delivers More Than Mail to Detroit's Ships. take THAT Amazon! Here's an excerpt of a fascinating tale at Atlas Obscura: "...It’s a warm day on the river, and as the tugboat passes underneath the traffic-filled Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Canada before it’s docked, it won’t be long before Buchanan is out moving with the rhythm of the water again. But Buchanan is no ordinary riverboat operator: He’s captain of the world’s only floating post office, one that delivers mail to ships at sea. For over 140 years, this method has not changed.."

Photo credit: "Captain Sam Buchanan prepares to take a mail parcel on board for a delivery to a passing freighter as traffic backs up on the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit to Windsor, Canada." (Photo: Liana Aghajanian).

93 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

84 F. average high on July 20.

81 F. high on July 20, 2015.

July 21, 2002: Dew points reach 84 degrees at Madison, Morris, and Olivia. This ties the all time highest dew point reading in Minnesota, as recorded by the State Climatology Office.

July 21, 1934: Extreme heat hits western Minnesota, and the temperature topped out at 113 at Milan.

TODAY: Excessive Heat  Warning. Broiling sun. Feels like 110-115F Winds: SW 8-13. High: 96

THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 75

FRIDAY: Hot sun, a bit less humid. Feels like 100F. Winds: E 5-10. High:  93

SATURDAY: Muggy with T-storms, some strong to severe. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 73. High: 88

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, cooler breeze kicks in. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 70. High: 83

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, breathing easier. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 68. high: 82

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, no drama yet. Winds: SW 3-8. Wake-up: 67. High: 84

WEDNESDAY: Sticky again, few T-storms around. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 68. High: 83

Climate Stories...

Why This Summer Is So Hot, And Why The Future Will Be So Much Hotter. Here's an excerpt from TIME: "...The coming warm spell is just a taste of future summers when heat waves will be stronger and more frequent. Recent research has shown that average summer temperatures post-2050 will regularly top today’s records, unless there are efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. “Extremely hot summers always pose a challenge to society,” said Flavio Lehner, a researcher at National Center for Atmospheric Research, following the release of a study on summer heat. “Such summers are a true test of our adaptability to rising temperatures...” (Image credit: CNN.com).

Greenland Lost a Staggering 1 Trillion Tons of Ice In Just Four Years. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Washington Post: "It’s no news that Greenland is in serious trouble — but now, new research has helped quantify just how bad its problems are. A satellite study, published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that the Greenland ice sheet lost a whopping 1 trillion tons of ice between the years 2011 and 2014 alone. And a big portion of it came from just five glaciers, about which scientists now have more cause to worry than ever..."

Image credit: "Greenland ice loss has recently contributed to twice as much sea-level rise than in the preceding two decades." (Reuters).

Greenland Melt-Down. A link to the research referenced in the article above is here.

Increased Asthma Attacks Tied To Exposure to Natural Gas Production. InsideClimate News has the story; here's the intro: "Exposure to more intense shale gas development correlates with a higher risk of asthma attacks among asthma patients, according to a new study of Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, one of the nation's largest and most active fracking regions. The paper, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, a publication of the American Medical Association, didn't examine the exact cause of the trend. But lead author Sara Rasmussen, a Ph.D. candidate in environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said air pollution and stress are both plausible explanations..."

Photo credit: "Natural gas operations in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region were studied for ties to increased asthma attacks." Credit: Wikimedia.

All About The Bass. Ask trout fishermen in Montana if things are warming up. Here's an excerpt from The Economist: "...For these fine fishing conditions—with the water running clear after months of turbid flows from spring snowmelt, and the temperature at 65°F (18.3°C)—have arrived too early, by some weeks. The water should be ten degrees cooler, frowns Mr Vermillion, and data retrieved by his smartphone from a nearby measuring station shows flows at less than half their historical median level. All rivers vary from year to year. What worries federal wildlife officials, state biologists and a growing number of devoted anglers across the mountain West, is that, for the past 15 years, some of America’s finest fishing rivers keep breaking records for early snowmelts, too-warm water and low flows..."

Study Role of Climate Change in Extreme Threats to Water Quality. Here's a clip from new research highlighted at Nature: "...Because the most severe water-quality impacts are exacerbated by weather, climate plays a part. Runoff of nutrients from farmland spikes after heavy rains; warm temperatures accelerate the growth of bacteria and phytoplankton. As climate change alters weather patterns and variability, conditions conducive to severe water impairment are likely to become more frequent. Yet there has been scant study of how climate will affect the occurrence of the extreme events that relate to water quality rather than quantity. We do not know how to relate water-quality extremes, their causes, their severity or their occurrence directly to changes in climate. It is time to plug this knowledge gap..."

Photo credit: Greg Lovett/Palm Beach Post via ZUMA Wire. "An algal bloom in Stuart, Florida, in June led to a state of emergency."

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