Here's some of the stuff that caught my eye in the last 24 hours...
So it's come to this: a significant percentage of Americans are skeptical of climate change, in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary. Yet many of those same skeptics are probably open to the idea of carnivorous sharks getting caught up in tornadoes and threatening our largest cities.
Yes, I watched Sharknado 2 and it's all great fun. "Um, I think think we're going to need a bigger Doppler." I'm more concerned about a tornado hitting the local sewage treatment plant, but not even Hollywood would touch that one.
I see a welcome absence of tornadoes (and sharks) into the weekend as the heat slowly builds; mid-80s Saturday and Sunday, a few degrees above average. Get the sweating and swimming out of your system because a spell of cooler, wetter weather is shaping up next week as a very slow moving storm pushes across the Upper Midwest.
Weather patterns always slow down in the summer as jet stream winds lift north, but next week's storm may stall by midweek, dropping heavy rain Monday into Wednesday with highs cooling into the 70s.
Our tentative summer continues to raise a few eyebrows, but my theory: it can always be worse.
Excuse me while I check the Doppler for Grizzly Bears.
* Photo credit above: Stay At Home Brad. Thanks Brad, you brightened an otherwise blah day.
Outlook: Canadian Smoke. The late afternoon visible image, courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather, shows the smoke plume from fires raging in Canada's Northwest Territories sweeping southeastward, effectively tracing out the trajectory of jet stream steering winds aloft. You won't actually smell smoke (the plume is too high overhead) but you may notice a milky film dulling an otherwise blue sky, and extra-red sunrises and sunsets in the coming days, especially Upper Midwest and Great Lakes to New England.
Summer The Way It Was Probably Meant To Be. Long-range guidance shows a slight temperature correction by the middle of next week - not quite as extreme or chilly as previous runs (low to mid 70s for highs by next Wednesday?) But first comes a spell of 80s; mid-80s likely over the weekend. An isolated T-shower may flare up Friday, especially around the dinner hour, with a better chance of a few hours of rain and lightning Sunday night as slightly cooler air approaches. ECMWF guidance shows 80s returning by the end of next week. Source: Weatherspark.
Runny Racing Stripes of Heavy Rain. NOAA's 4 KM WRF model shows more instability T-storms firing up from Wisconsin into New England along the leading edge of cooler air; the heaviest rains soaking Oklahoma, Arkansa and northeastern Texas where some 2-5" amounts may spark more flash flooding. The tropics remain quiet for now. Source: HAMweather.
Expert. July Storms Can Indicate Strong Hurricane Season. A high amplitude pattern over North America (hot, dry ridge in the west - unusually chilly/stormy trough in the east) may provide a more favorable runway for any tropical systems to push up the East Coast later this summer and autumn, according to this story at WPRI-TV in Providence; here's an excerpt: "...Dave Vallee of the National Weather Service in Taunton said storms in July can often be an indicator of what’s to come. “I think Arthur was a calling card,” he said. “It’s a little more common to see that as we go into an El Niño event.” El Niño is a warming of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, off the coast of South America. The phenomenon can occur every few years. “What it does is change the behavior of the jet stream high in the atmosphere, over the deep tropics of the Atlantic,” Vallee explained..."
Continental Bank Shares 9 Tips for Hurricane Preparedness. Here's an excerpt of a good hurricane punch list available at InsuranceNewsNet.com:
• Protect financial documents - In the event of a disaster, you will need identification insurance, and financial documents to begin the recovery process. Safeguard important documents in one of Continental National Bank's safety deposit boxes, computer storage devices, and/or water and fire proof storage containers. You should save: forms of personal identification; financial account information; insurance policies on all personal property, including appraisals and lists and photos of valuable items; ownership or leasing documentation for homes and vehicles; and all health and medical insurance documentation.
• Develop a family communications plan - Know how you will contact one another and where you will meet should you happen to get separated..."
New Wildfire Science Shows That Small Steps Can Save Homes, Communities. I thought this story at National Geographic Daily News was interesting - here's an excerpt: "...As the summer wildfire season enters full swing in the United States, with more than 700,000 acres now burning in the Pacific Northwest and California, the difference between a surviving house and a charred husk could come down to details as small as screens over attic vents, trimmed trees, or pine needles in the gutters. In fact, in the past ten years scientists have gained a whole new understanding of factors that can help a home survive a wildfire. And it turns out that saving a house has less to do with stopping a forest fire cold or creating a nonflammable moonscape for a hundred feet in every direction. It's more about lots of minor modifications and regular maintenance..." (File photo: USDA).
Wildfire Risk Across the Southern USA. Here is a powerful interactive tool, The Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, showing risk levels from Texas into the Carolinas and Virginias, courtesy of The Southern Group of State Foresters.
NOAAView Data Exploration Tool. NOAA has a powerful visualization tool with multiple layers - an effective way to keep a global perspective on weather.
2014 Lightning Fatalities. The Miami office of The National Weather Service reports 15 lightning-related deaths so far this year, 6 in Florida, 1 in Wisconsin and 1 in Michigan.
Elliot Founder Reveals His Dread of Electromagnetic Pulse. Hedge Fund manager Paul Singer puts the risk of long-term power grid failures from an X-Class solar flare above nuclear conflict and pandemic, and I suspect his paranoia is well-placed. It's the things you usually don't fret about that come back to bite you when you least expect it. The Financial Times (paywall) has the story. (Image credit: NASA).
Probability of a Massive Solar Storm in the Next Decade? About 12% Mysterious Universe has more on the near-miss in 2012; had the X-class solar flare occurred about 1 week earlier, scoring a direct strike on Earth, there's a statistically significant chance you wouldn't be reading this right now. Here's a clip: "...Unfortunately, the Sun spews out massive coronal mass ejections all the time; scientists estimate our odds of being clobbered with one are about 12% over the next ten years. So what happens when it does hit? Maybe nothing; maybe the nightmarish scenario described above; maybe anything in between. It all depends on the strength of the CME, the strength of the resulting geomagnetic storm, and a variety of factors we can’t quite assess yet. But if the data from the 2012 CME is any indication, Earth’s power grid isn’t ready for the consequences..."
What Would Happen If Ebola Came To The United States? Yes, here's another happy thought. Vox takes a look at why we are better prepared than many nations, but the resulting panic might make the bird flu look tame, by comparison. Here's an excerpt: "...With air travel as common as it is, borders don't mean all that much when it comes to disease. It's entirely possible — though by no means certain — that at some point, someone infected with Ebola could get on a plane and land in the United States. And then what? As it turns out, experts say, we'd probably be able to contain an Ebola outbreak here pretty quickly. But it's worth exploring why that is. The outbreak in West Africa is so severe for a number of key reasons, including a lack of resources, inadequate infection control measures, and mistrust of health workers. The United States, by contrast, has far better public-health infrastructure. And that makes all the difference..."
Photo credit: AP Photo/ Youssouf Bah.
The Doc About "Bomb Trains" Filled With Crude Oil Will Make Your Head Explode. If you've been paying attention (and I trust you have) you just can't miss the parade of black train cars filled with North Dakota crude chugging across Minnesota, passing right thru the Twin Cities metro area. What can possibly go wrong? Here's an excerpt from Grist: "VICE News just released Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail, a 23-minute-long documentary investigating the explosive oil trains that regularly run from the Bakken shale to the Pacific Northwest. That might seem a bit long for web video, but you should watch it anyway — mostly because Thomas the Terror Engine is headed to your town, but also because Jerry Bruckheimer has nothing on the terrifying explosions at the 5:09 and 6:00 marks..."
Do You Live In a "Bomb Train" Blast Zone? Yes, I live near one too, and just the thought of this makes me sleep better at night. Here's an excerpt from VICE News: "The map (above) provides a striking visualization of where crude oil is traveling by rail throughout the United States and Canada. ForestEthics, the environmental group that created it, used industry data and reports from citizens who live near oil train routes to provide one of the first comprehensive visualizations of how many people are at risk from oil trains, and where. The group estimates that some 25 million Americans live within the one-mile evacuation zone that the US Department of Transportation recommends in the event of an oil fire. Do you live in the blast zone of a bomb train?..."
Warding Off Lions With Mobiles Shows African Technology Boom. There's an app for...that? Bloomberg has the fascinating story of how affordable smartphones coupled with phone-controlled lighting apps are reducing the risk of lion attacks in Africa - here's a clip: "...Mobile technology is revolutionizing life for many of the more than 1 billion people in Africa for whom services like banking, the Internet and affordable energy were previously considered luxuries, rather than everyday staples. And with wireless operators pioneering their own inexpensive smartphones, the continent with the world’s youngest population will soon have access to 4G networks and apps that will feed a consumer boom that’s driving African economic growth...
Photo credit above: M-Kopa Sola. "An M-Kopa Solar information center."
"Fitle" Gives Users a 3-D Avatar of Themselves For Virtually Trying On Clothes. I do hope my 3-D avatar is better looking (thinner with more hair, please). Shopping for clothing from your favorite couch may be about to get easier - and more accurate. Here's an excerpt from gizmag.com: "...While these tools can be useful, Fitle says that it can create a 3D avatar of an individual that not only looks like them, but that is morphologically exact. Indeed, it claims to provide a 99 percent accurate representation of the user. Fitle avatars are created using the height measurement of a user and four photos of them. An algorithm is used to extract more than 50 parameters based on how a user looks, while another is used to create a 3D reconstruction of the user. Fitle says the end results are photo-realistic..."
Driven Crazy: One Journalist's Quest To Get a License in Japan. Yes, it makes our DMV look like a piece of cake, by comparison. Here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: "...The process itself seems to have a purpose: socializing the candidates so they’ll behave properly once they accomplish their goal. Anybody merely casual about the matter gets weeded out. And, as hard as it is to get the license, keeping it isn’t easy either. Best to keep bending over backwards to follow every last rule. Overall, I had to make seven trips to locations around the city over two months, spending about $600. (Canadians and Europeans have it easier, with more streamlined reciprocity driving agreements with Japan)..."
Photo credit above: "Winning the right to join these drivers on Japanese roads is no smooth ride." Bloomberg News.
It Has Happened. Tofu McNuggets Exist. Now you know what's in those nuggets, at least in Japan. Huffington Post has the story - here's an excerpt: "McDonald's just might have become a tofu lover's fast food delight. Attributed to the fallout from a Chinese food supplier (though some are claiming the move was planned well in advance) sending rotten meat to restaurant chains, McDonald's in Japan decided to play it safe and chicken-free by turning to tofu..." (Image: McDonald's).
83 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
83 F. average high on July 30.
72 F. high on July 30, 2013.
July 30, 1961: Downpour in Albert Lea with 6.7 inches in 24 hours.
TODAY: Warm sun, still pleasant. Dew point: 57. Winds: NW 8. High: 82
THURSDAY NIGHT: Isolated evening T-shower southern MN, otherwise partly cloudy. Low: 63
FRIDAY: Sticky sun, stray late-day T-shower. High: 82
SATURDAY: An SPF 50 day. Warm sun. Dew point: 61. Winds: SW 5. Wake-up: 64. High: 84
SUNDAY: Less sun, few PM T-storms. Wake-up: 66. High: 85
MONDAY: Lingering showers and T-storms. Wake-up: 65. High: near 80
TUESDAY: Unsettled. Nagging thunder risk. Wake-up: 63. High: 79
WEDNESDAY: Heavy rain, storms southern MN? Wake-up: 61. High: 73
White House: $150 Billion a Year Will Be Cost of Climate Inaction. From flooding in the east to non-stop wildfires in the west, the federal government is already picking up much of the tab for weather-on-steroids. Here's an excerpt from Inside Climate News: "...Allowing warming to pass safe levels and reach 3 degrees Celsius could cause damage amounting to 0.9 percent of global economic output each year, according to the new report from the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, a three-member group that counsels the president on economic policy. That level of warming would cost the United States about $150 billion a year in today's dollars. It will come in the form of damage to public health and biodiversity, as well as physical impacts from rising seas and more severe storms, droughts and wildfires..."
White House Climate Change Report: Act Now or Pay Later. The Christian Science Monitor has the story here.
Huge Waves Measured For First Time In Arctic Ocean. Here's an excerpt from a press release at The University of Washington: "As the climate warms and sea ice retreats, the North is changing. An ice-covered expanse now has a season of increasingly open water that is predicted to extend across the whole Arctic Ocean before the middle of this century. Storms thus have the potential to create Arctic swell – huge waves that could add a new and unpredictable element to the region. A University of Washington researcher made the first study of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, and detected house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. The results were recently published in Geophysical Research Letters..."
Thinning Arctic Ice. The Navy has a web site that allows you to track the thickness of ice (in meters), in this case since July 10. As you can see much of the ice is gone between Alaska and Siberia, thicker ice being pushed by prevailing arctic winds toward Baffin Island and Greenland. Less ice = larger waves.
Climate Change Research Goes To The Extremes. Here's an excerpt of a story from Northeastern University that caught my eye: "...What they found may surprise some: While global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variability in temperature extremes. For instance, while each year's average hottest and coldest temperature will likely rise, those averages will also tend to fall within a wider range of potential high and low temperature extremes than are currently being observed. This means that even as overall temperatures rise, we may still continue to experience extreme cold snaps..."
Is This How To Sell Americans on Fighting Global Warming? Put dollars back into the pockets of anyone with a social security number? Sounds like a good start. Here's an excerpt of an ambitious proposal highlighted at Bloomberg Businessweek: "...The bill would require companies to have permits to produce or import carbon-containing fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. The permits, instead of being allocated politically, would be auctioned off by the government, so they would get into the hands of the emitters who need them the most. A similar auction system drastically reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide—which causes acid rain—quicker and cheaper than experts expected. Here’s Van Hollen’s political twist: The money raised by the permits would make a U-turn and go straight back to the American people—specifically, every person with a Social Security number. The same amount of money to every person, even those who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes..."
What they found may surprise some: While global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variability in temperature extremes. For instance, while each year’s average hottest and coldest temperatures will likely rise, those averages will also tend to fall within a wider range of potential high and low temperate extremes than are currently being observed.
This means that even as overall temperatures rise, we may still continue to experience extreme cold snaps, said Kodra, who earned the College of Engineering’s outstanding graduate research award in 2014 and is now leading data analytics efforts at Energy Points, an innovative Boston area startup.- See more at: http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2014/07/climate-change-research-goes-to-the-extremes/#sthash.AyPcOnF2.dpuf
Personal Stories about Global Warming Change Minds. Climate Central's Chief Scientist Heidi Cullen has an important Op-Ed at The New York Times; here's an excerpt that resonated with me: "...The best films and novels have always tackled the most compelling issues of the time. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “The Jungle” moved people to demand action because of their unique ability to weave together the emotional, rational and moral threads around fraught topics like slavery, poverty and dangerous working conditions. When done right, true stories are explosive. They provide us with new ways of seeing the world and our place in it. The facts themselves may be unable to make global warming feel psychologically proximate, but we still need them to make informed decisions..." (File image: Water Missions International).
Mayor of London Unveils Plan For UK's First Floating Village. Why do I think we'll be seeing more floating communities in the years to come? Adaptation and resilience - if water levels rise so does the entire community. Here's a clip from Gizmag: "Another day, another ambitious architecture project championed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson. The mayor's office recently revealed that consortium Carillion Igloo Genesis has won a competition to design and build the UK's first floating village at the Royal Victoria Dock, East London..."
Opinion: Why Are Conservatives Afraid of Neil deGrasse Tyson? Good question, maybe because the truth about scientific objectivity and the reality of a more volatile climate will start to resonate, especially with younger voters? Yes, by all means let's be conservative about everything (except the environment that sustains us - there we can afford to take chances). Let's just roll the dice. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: "...No, the danger Tyson brings to the political structure, as he gains an increasingly large foothold in the popular culture, is the threat of an informed populace. “When you’re scientifically literate, the world looks different to you,” Tyson wrote in 2011. “It’s a particular way of questioning what you see and hear. When empowered by this state of mind, objective realities matter. These are the truths of the world that exist outside of whatever your belief system tells you...”
File photo: AP, Frank Micelotta.
Florida Official Describes Efforts, Challenges in Combating Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at The Miami Herald: "...Inaction on climate change is not an option for Florida,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island and the subcommittee’s chairman. “The longer the wait for action, the higher the cost. Climate change is stacking the deck against our oceans, our fisheries and our coastal economies,” he said. Jacobs detailed the impact of rising temperatures and seas on South Florida and talked about steps governments in the area have taken to combat it. “Florida, especially South Florida, is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” she said. “Our extensive coastline, low land elevations, flat topography and unique geology combine to put South Florida communities on the front line for combating climate impacts...”